Let the Right One In – Bleak, Beautiful, Foreign

Let the Right One In – Bleak, Beautiful, Foreign

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  1. Vampires, these days, have gone soft.  What happened to the hard-core, scary as hell vampires of old?  Vampires should be in horror films, not romantic dramas… well, not all the time.  Tomas Alfredson’s (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) 2008 film adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel, Let The Right One In, is mostly drama with horror and romance tossed in… and it’s terrifying at times, but touching at times.  It’s also Swedish, in case you were wondering.  If you haven’t heard of this film, you may recognize the American remake named Let Me In (2010) directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield).  Let The Right One In did not make it on the Oscar’s list of Best Foreign films but it did win a stunning 62 total awards from various film festivals and such from around the world.

    What is it about?

    Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is sick of being bullied by his classmates.  He wants to fight back, but doesn’t have the guts to do so.  But when he meets the new girl that moves in next door, Eli (Lina Leandersson), everything starts to change.  He finds her strange at first because she goes barefoot in the snow without being cold, she smells funny, and she considers herself "Twelve [years old]… more or less."  He looks past this, and they become friends.  Eventually, though, he falls in a 12 year old’s version of love with her.  Unfortunately for him, she’s a vampire.

    More specifically, she’s a vampire with a dedicated older man for a caretaker.  He kills people for her and drains their blood so she doesn’t have to kill.  He doesn’t always succeed, though, so she does sometimes have to kill even though she doesn’t like to.  For a vampire she has a big heart and seems to care about people.  

    As more and more people end up dead, Eli decides she has to move on so she doesn’t get caught.  Oskar doesn’t like that because he loves her AND she has helped him overcome his unwillingness to fight back against the bullies at his school.  Even after he finds out she’s a vampire, he continues to love her.  He is a little put off at first because of the killing and the fact that she robs the people she kills, but he looks past all that and gives her his undeniable, 12-year-old love… which is actually very sweet and endearing.  As the bullying gets worse, though, Oskar needs Eli more than ever, but she has gone away… or has she?  Watch it to find out!

    Is it any good?

    This is one of the best foreign films you will ever see.  It is very different from American cinema, however.  The pacing is a little slower than modern American films, the shots are longer, some of the phrasing is different, character interactions are more European (obviously), and the films does some shocking things that probably wouldn’t cut it in American cinema.  But it’s fantastic.

    The locales are distinctly bleak but also beautiful.  The snow falling in most shots even adds a dream-like quality to the look of the film.  It’s a decidedly dark dream, but it gives you a fantastic suspension of reality while the action that takes place is in your face and brutally gritty.  Even though Eli is a vampire and vampires aren’t real (unless you ask some crazy people), the film feels very realistic.  It is also something a lot of people can relate to because everyone has felt inadequate at some point in their life and has needed someone to step up and help make them stronger.  That’s what Eli does for Oskar.  And their young love is equal parts adorably touching and strangly twisted.

    Nolan’s Grade:  A

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    SIDENOTE:  Watch this film in Swedish with English subtitles (unless you speak Swedish fluently) because that is the only way to really capture the amazing performances by these young and talented actors.  If you absolutely can’t stand to watch a movie with subtitles, get the American remake, Let Me In, which is slightly faster paced, but far inferior to the Swedish original.

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