Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Film: "Let The Right One In"

I have nothing particularly original to say about this film. It has been out a while, so you have probably seen it or have no intention of doing so (or maybe you are waiting for the English language remake). As you probably know, it is the story of this young adolescent Swedish boy called Oskar who is being bullied at school. Then a girl called Eli moves in next door, and they become friends and stuff, only of course it turns out that the girl is a vampire. It takes him quite a while to register that his new friend is a monster who preys on his fellow humans, leaving the film's primary focus for much of its length on his developing friendship and love for Eli. Ultimately this is a film about adolescence, friendship, and first love, albeit with a generous helping of the sadness and loneliness of being a vampire in a world of humans. In that respect, it could be described as a mash-up between Lukas Moodysson's Fucking Åmal (released in Anglophonia as Show Me Love) or Tilsammans (shown in your local multiplex as Together) and The Hunger*.

One of the many poignant aspects of the film is Eli's ambiguous relationship to the older man she lives with. He knows she is a vampire, and makes various unsuccessful attempts to kill people and drain their blood for her. In one of the scenes where he is with Eli, he asks her not to go out with Oskar that night, and his air of emotional neediness made me think that he is Oskar's future. What kind of relationship can you have with a girl who remains twelve years old while you grow up and grow old?

With vampire stories, the assumption is always there that the relationship of vampires to humans is intrinsically inimical. They typically end with the vampires either being slain, usually with great violence, or with the vampire triumphing over their adversaries and escaping to kill again and again, albeit with a bit of sadface action about the misery of eternal life as an inhuman predator. With this film I found myself wondering whether its being made by the liberal Swedes could have led to a more rational outcome. Perhaps Eli could have eventually been captured by the police. Realising her true nature, they would keep her out of direct sunlight (it never looks good if people spontaneously combust in police custody) and then she would have to face trial for all the people she had killed. Maybe she would be convicted, but maybe she would be able to successfully plead some kind of diminished responsibility. Either way, she would find herself in the famously easy-going penal system of Sweden, but would perhaps be obliged to take part in some kind of psychological therapy programme to break down her tendency to bite people's throats out. Eventually, and under strict supervision, she would be released into the community, to be fed on a liquid diet supplied by the Swedish blood transfusion board.

That is not how the film ends.

*Not that I have actually seen this film about somewhat comedic Goth vampires, but I did the impressive book by Whitley Streiber on which it is based.

image source

2 comments:

Wood said...

I reviewed it too, you know. I think we more or less agree on Oskar's final fate.

ian said...

Yeah... I saw you had written about it, but didn't look too closely, for fear of SPOILERS.