Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Let The Right One In
Someone has been killing the townspeople of Blackeberg, the tiny suburb of Stockholm that is the setting of this gem, draining them of blood. We know from the beginning who it is. This is not a murder mystery. This is a tale of two young (one only nominally) people finding their way around each other, forming a symbiotic relationship in the snowy reaches of Sweden.
We meet Oskar, a spindly and bullied 12-year-old, as he torments empty space the way his classmates have tormented him. You’ll recognize his first lines, and shudder appropriately, from Deliverance, though the tone they are uttered in could not be more different from the original.
The killer that the town is searching for, who is taking people’s friends and loved ones, is not a psychopath, nor a deranged vengeful person, but a 12-year-old girl. She is Eli, a vampire, new in town, who befriends Oskar and teaches him to protect himself. Oskar’s fascination with gore and death provides enough of a buffer that he is not phased when he realizes Eli’s secret. Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson, as Oskar and Eli, respectively, are brilliantly self-assured and precise in their acting. Nothing overdone, nothing superfluous. The same goes for the rest of the film, actually. There is no Hans Zimmer score booming away in the back of each scene, telling us how to feel and when to feel it. Instead, there is almost utter silence, save for the crunch of boots in the snow or a body thudding against a van. We feel what we feel when we feel it.
The age of original ideas in Western film being mostly dead, we will be “treated” to an American remake of this wonderful film later this year. I smell a thriller, unfortunately. Get to this one first.
**Since this posting, I have spoken to several people about the remake, and my mind has been changed. My brother, specifically, helped this occur, since he is prone to not liking things, but he has high hopes for the American version, except for the part where it's set in New Mexico, which I read somewhere. In any case, he convinced me that from the previews, it looks to be a possibly shot-for-shot remake, so I feel better about it. But I still think it's silly to remake something so soon after the original was released. Of course, we're also getting an American- and British-made version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, even though the original (Swedish again) was literally still in theaters a month ago.