Tuesday, March 24, 2009

REVIEW: Let The Right One In...


I often times feel a deep hatred for the city known as Grand Rapids and the surrounding area. The main reason behind this is the fact that we don't have a truly great independent theatre. Yes, there is an arthouse theatre downtown, but it only has one, maybe two films showing. However, when we get films like Let The Right One In, which was here late in 2008, and now on DVD, it makes me feel a whole lot better.

Let The Right One In is a story about Oskar, a bullied 12-year old, who dreams of revenge. He falls in love with Eli, a peculiar girl. She can't stand the sun or food and to come into a room she needs to be invited. Eli gives Oskar the strength to hit back but when he realizes that Eli needs to drink other people's blood to live he's faced with a choice. How much can love forgive? Let The Right One In is a story both violent and highly romantic, set in the Stockholm suburb of Blackeberg in 1982.

First off, there are two stark comparisons that can be made to this film. First off, the one that I don't know about. The biggest comparison to this film happens to be one of the biggest films from last year, Twilight. Vampires, love, longing, all big features of the Twilight phenominon, are big plot points here. Another comparison, one I can talk to, is the biggest film from last year, Slumdog Millionaire, and oh how this film is superior to both of those.

The biggest thing about LtRoi is the cast. Starring two very young actors, Kare Hedebrant as Oskar and Lina Leandersson as Eli, are so stunningly great here. Tomas Alfredson is able to get so much out of the two leads that you can't but help and fall in love and truly care for these two characters. Their relationship is so relateable, even with the vampire aspect, that the whole vampire thing doesn't really even seem to play into it. It's about a first crush, love that is unattainable. The film is truly about how much love is able to forgive, and not about vampires.

That is something, and I know this is a strained comparison, that Slumdog was unable to do for me. For me, Millionaire came off as a truly Hollywood romance, set within a world where a set of questions on a game show are given to a kid in chronological order of his life (because Americans are to dumb to get a disjointed narative). Or in Twilight, the two can't be together because the vampire would eat the human, yet they still are together. Here however, their love has true consiquences, and it feels so true, coming from the great performances, and real, that it makes this film so much more rewarding.

The film is also absolutley stunning to look at. It's set during the winter in '80's Sweden, and the way that the snow gives off a feel of natural light, and the coldness within the frame had me shivering under my Watchmen blanket. The score is subtle, and the film is so grounded within realtiy, that it almost seems like how the current Batman is done. Sure, there are supernatural elements within the film and story, but they are set in a true world, that it gives off a weird and really interesting vibe, that makes getting into the story so much more rewarding.

Oh, and it's not all a love story. There are a ton of badass scenes within this film. If you want to see vampires spontaneously combust instead of turning into diamonds when they are subjected to light, then check this one out. It's not only that the films are badass just for being badass, the film completely earns each of these scenes, that while some are wasted, this may be the most economical films since Red Eye. Very few scenes are for nothing in this film, and it makes for a great experience.

Finally, covering all aspects, this film has a lot of humor as well. Sure, it's very dark, but if you watch this film with the dubbing on instead of subtitles (US release has different, butchered, subtitles), you will get a lot more out of it. Oh, and this ending is so strong that it just left me loving this film.

Yeah, this is a short review, but it's so you have more time to see this amazing film.

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN: 9/10

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