Friday, 2 July 2010

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN review/comments

I was so incensed about what has come out on the American remake of Let the Right One In, that I watched it again last night, for the 3rd or 4th time, I just do not remember. Every time I see it, I find some other delights in it, it is that kind of film: there is texture in it, not only a mechanically developed plot.

Lina Leandersson gives her character, Eli, that very endearing mix of tenderness and harshness, of the 12 year old girl who has being 12 for a long time, and who does not know if she is a she or a he (I understand that in the book, which I haven't read, Eli is actually a boy). Lina was able to give Eli this aura of androgyny that I doubt that Chloë Moretz can, the short trailer I saw is already indicating so.

Let the Right One In has that rare quality of being able to be read at several levels, an immediate one being that of high quality entertainment, a tense and gripping film which made me wanting not to miss any single frame of it, an atomic bomb could be exploding next to me and I still would continue watching it; and yet is a tender portrayal of the pains of growing up, if you allow me this cliché, of the insecurities about our place in the world, of the need to carve our niches; and about the gradual development of love and the acceptance of the other, in this case the vampire Eli. It is crucial for her that she has to be let in, otherwise she dies, as Oskar leans in a rather cruel scene, regretting his attitude later on.

The portrayal Eli is different to that of any other cinematic vampire, as she is pained for what she has to do, for her to live means the death of others, the opposite attitude of Oskar, who is already harbouring dreams of psycopathic murder, and yet, he still has that choice which is denied to her; and her lasting tenderness for her companions in her long never ending life, never being able to develop, imprisoned in the mind and body of a teenager who longs to be like anybody else is, and she can't, defines her uniqueness in the hagiography of vampires. The scenes where she gets sick after eating a sweet offered to her by Oskar, or when she refuses the offer of the Rubik cube (which she was able to solve in minutes) because she has no birthdays, not any longer, and therefore no presents, are indicative of this longing for having a life as anybody else, and her inability to do so: cats go berserk when  she is their vicinity, not counting the fact that she is nocturnal.

The poetic of longing is what defines this film, Oskar's psychopathic impulses to kill his tormentors at school are also a manifestation of his longing to have a normal life free of bullying, or the longing of those characters in a working class Swedish housing estate to some undefined goal that themselves do not know but it is still there hanging in their minds, and the longing for the sometimes horror of life to end. From this point of view, there is an exploration of the inner working of social groups, either at Oskar's school or in the housing estate outside Stockolm, and the psychopathic mind.

I reject the criticism uttered from some quarters that Tomas Alfredson exploited Lina Leandersson, criticism which, frankly, I don't understand. Is it because there some indication of nudity, although Lina is never, and I repeat that word, never shown naked in the film? Th only scene which could be construed to be exploitative, a dark and fast shot of Eli's frontal nudity when putting on a dress, a doll was used.

Don't take me wrong, this is not a depressing film, it made me laugh, cry, and, most importantly, feel the poetic of longing, the cinematography reinforcing this atmosphere. The tantalizing open ending adding to this feeling.

I fear that all these qualities will be lost in Let Me In, the American remake of the film. For one thing, Chloë Moretz is too fulsome an American girl, and too much of a female, to be able to convey the complexities and androgynous character of Eli, or Abby.

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