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Tuesday, July 16

Let the right one in

It came highly recommended, a movie that filled the first positions in some people's top tens. I had no idea what it was about and decided to read no reviews, so I watched it with an open mind. Though I am past the Twilight enthusiast age, Let the right one in took me by surprise with the natural, quiet approach to vampire teenage love. More surprisingly, I stayed glued to the TV screen for almost two hours because, in the words of Peter Bradshaw, "some movies, while never attaining masterpiece status, nonetheless have a monumental WTF-factor".

And now, what makes this movie a worth-watching one. First, the story is surprisingly set in a suburban, cold-freezing, all white Sweden and it revolves around a shy, 12-year old boy, Oskar and the way his life changes when he meets his neighbour, Eli. Oskar lives with his divorced mother and he is being constantly bullied in school by three classmates. He meets Eli on a cold night while stabbing a tree in response to his daily abuse; they connect and she surprises him with her talent for solving the Rubik cube, her strangeness and apparent frailty. Yet Eli is strong and experienced and when her partner, Hakan -the man who loves her enough to kill for the blood she needs to survive- proves to be a poor killer and a clumsy hunter, she takes the matter into her own hands. Oskar offers her the human closeness she yearns for and she gives him courage to fight his aggressors.  


I love movies that sneak up on me and challenge me with their wit and poignancy. Let the right one in is freaky, unexpected and bloody, yet fascinating. This is a horror movie about an innocent love story with fairy tale coming-of-age elements. Forget Stephenie Meyer, Anne Rice or Bram Stoker and their embellished, sexualized romances; this is not about the excitement of connecting with a vampire or the super-powers that come with the territory. Let the right one is rather about lack of communication, alienation, adaptability and interaction. It is a combination of occasional violence, innocence, routine, bonding, harsh survival, all blended in a touching movie. Regardless of their age, women enter men's lives as a sweet blessing and turn out to be a bleak curse forever; Eli is a cold-blooded, blood drinker eerie creature who answers Oskar's loneliness, fantasies, despair, darkness. If you try to see beyond the vampire routine, you'll get a closer look at lost souls that have been reunited in an imperfect, cruel way.  
 

The acting of the main characters is highly impressive; Kare Hedebrant as Oskar and Lina Leandersson as Eli make an incredible pair, both physically and emotionally. They share the same outcast aura, the same emotions and both feel unfit in their universe. Their still features make the best match with the movie atmosphere and the frozen, white surroundings. John Ajvide Lindqvist, who adapted the screenplay from his horror novel, openly borrowed the title from Morrissey and Tomas Alfredson, the director, attached the slow pace and the stillness of his picture to the verses of song. Every scene is carefully arranged and every detail is explored; sparse dialogue and the way space is creatively exposed add up to the director's cut.



Vampires need to be invited in a house and this is no joke. Out of love and as a token of her trust, Eli enters Oskar's apartment without a verbal invitation and blood starts coming out of her pores, nose, eyes and ears. She is willing to die in the name of affection, denying her nature and forever winning Oskar's heart. The ending scene of the movie, on a train, with the two of them - him, absently gazing through the window, her, comfortably packed in a box- blowing kisses in Morse code, is unexpected and unbelievably poignant. Whether they come along as a blessing or as a curse you cannot lift, relationships are -to paraphrase Woody Allen- like a shark; they have to constantly move forward or they die.