11.27.2008

Let The Right One In - movie review

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Let The Right One In
*****

If we're going to talk ages, 12 isn't a great number to be. 12 is an age of emotional purgatory, where an individual is no longer a child, yet not quite an adult. It's a period in the midst of transition. I think we can all agree it's no age for an individual to spend a lifetime. In the case of Eli however, it's potentially the rest of her eternity. For Oskar, it's just torture. Let The Right One In is perhaps the most effective portrait I have seen depicting young adolescence and the unexpected discovery of new love, only this time it's between a very young man and a vampire.

The life of Oskar, a twelve year old boy living in the Swedish town of Blackeberg, is a life that resides in the virtual crevasse between two divorced parents. His only primary social interaction is that instigated by a team of bullies. He is essentially alone in his middle-school world, that is until one day when he meets the mysterious girl who moved in next door.
Eli exhibits a sort of ethereal quality in the fact that she merely exists. Her pale complexion almost glows, and the cold air condenses as it escapes her every word.
She tells Oskar that he can't be her friend. Naturally, a relationship begins to bloom. Let's just hope Eli's unquenchable thirst for blood doesn't get in the way.

Subtlety is the fabric that holds this film together. There is hardly a method to fully explain the intricate storyline, especially the relationships between the characters, without going through the entire story from beginning to end. This film is one that doesn't fear it's viewer asking questions, in fact, it practically dares them to. It's one to talk about. What exactly is the relationship between Eli and her elderly caretaker? Is that fatherly concern in his voice when he tells her not to meet that boy, or is it something else? What kind of a man is Oskar going to turn into? For that matter, exactly what kind of creature is Eli?

There is a lot of depth here, along with meaty substance. Adapted from the Swedish novel of the same name, the film version of Let the Right One In will only reveal what is necessary for the viewer to know. John Ajvide Lindqvist, author of both the original novel and the screenplay, understands that the "how" in this case is not as important as the "who." Who these characters are and the way in which they might mature (or stay the same) is where the emphasis is placed.

It also helps that this is one of the most visually striking films I've ever seen. Eli inhabits a jungle gym with a ghostly charm. Oskar touches the window with his warm fingers. Moments are captured on film, and within these moments entire conversations are expressed without a single word. Two hands, one hot and one cold, delicately touch each other in the snow. Meanwhile, the camera follows it's prey with a surreal, calm, hovering motion. The final shots, entire scenes, will no doubt be part of film history.

Let the Right One In is a haunting experience, an unforgettable experience. It flutters beyond the description of horror or drama. At the same time it maintains an overall sweetness. It delves into the anatomy of all relationships, young and old. It ends not just with a bite, but the word "kiss." It really is one of my new favorite movies.

2 comments:

beth said...

so excited.

Anonymous said...

Why'd you take it back to CA with you?! I wanted to see it. You will pay Zack, mark my words, you will pay!!!! Mwhahahahah!