Where to begin? I’ve just finished watching this movie and am entranced. It’s beautiful, haunting, thought provoking and subtle. In discussing it, I’m going to try not to give away any pertinent details that might ruin the film for those who’ve not yet seen it, but also convey what it was that impressed me so. Wish me luck.
First off, it’s important I believe to give credit to both the plot, the narrative, as written in the original novel by John Adjvide Lindqvist (who also wrote the screenplay) and the work done by the director, Tomas Alfredson. For the plot is at once startling and unique, an innovative look at vampirism and relationships, and the slender sliver on the Venn Diagram where they intersect. Whereas the director brought gravitas and beauty to this film with his many shots of the stark buildings, the icy landscape, the composition of his shots and the pace with which he developed the film. Both are brilliant, but each is distinct.
Of late, most of the films and novels that deal with vampires seem to fixate on a couple of basic facets and stereotypes. The adult, seductive vampire, interacting with humans and blowing their minds with their hip coolness and devastating beauty, or the horror flic, where the vampires are all hissing maws and monstrous appetites. Both are becoming boring, banal, superficial interpretations of the vampire myth, which is why Let The Right One In is so welcome a change of pace.
Because at heart, this is a story of relationships. Of power, of love, of loneliness, and fear. No relationship is simple within this film, no character a set piece. This complexity is stunningly contrasted with the stark simplicity of the winterscapes and brutal buildings in which the tale unfolds, such that we are at once lulled by the numbness of winter and then shocked by the ferocity of emotions that develop on the screen.
Also, kudos to the actors. The children who play Oskar and Eli make the movie, make it credible, natural, terrifying and beautiful. They act with such simplicity and comfort that the movie works; without them, it would have flopped badly.
It’s a beautiful movie, and a chilling one. From what I can gather, most people think it’s a love story, a coming of age narrative for Oskar. I disagree. I think it asks uncomfortable questions much in the same manner as Octavia Butler did in BLOOD CHILD. Can two people love each other when the power balance is so unequal? Can love coexist alongside such an imbalance? Can you use somebody for your own needs and still love them? Therein lies the heart of this movie, how it refuses to allow the relationships to be cast in black or white, good or evil, love or hatred. It is iin this very complexity that lies its true beauty and power.
Did I like it? Oh yes. Oh yes indeed.