Let The Right One In

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Posted October 22, 2008 in Film

Twelve-year-olds Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) and Eli (Lina Leandersson) are obsessed with murder. For different reasons: He’s bullied, she’s a vampire. Swedish director Tomas Alfredson’s moody coming of age drama, based on the screenplay and novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist splits the difference between gothic romance and schoolyard angst, pulling off both modestly but neither great. The rich, charcoal-sketch cinematography by Hoyte Van Hoytema with its bleak snowdrifts and thick, merlot blood raises expectations that the plot can’t quite deliver, but the art-house audiences who trickle in will find it easy to sink into Alfredson’s ponderous tone and mistake the slowness of the two-hour long picture for hidden depth. Under the surface of Lindqvist’s novel is a look at the Sweden shut out by IKEA ads—one where people live in humble tenements and get prickly about outsiders moving in and stealing their benefits. The casting of Leandersson, a grey-eyed child with the gypsy features, is just as subtly politicized, as if she was a Mexican immigrant biting necks in Arizona. The band of blue-collar neighborhood drinkers—including a man with what looks like two dozen CGI cats—who lose their mate Jocke (Mikael Rahm) to Eli’s fangs grumble around impotently as the girl knocks them off one by one. Still, this dynamic never feels more than tangential; so too does much of the film which glosses over head-scratching plot points like Eli’s knack for killing people outside her front door. The film works best at its thinnest level: Going steady with a vampire—though it raises a few moral issues—gives Oskar his Best Winter Ever. (Amy Nicholson)


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