movies: let the right one in

let the right one inSometimes the Universe just lets everything fall into place in just the right way.

Since I didn't win tickets to the opening night of Let The Right One In (or "Låt den rätte komma in" to give it it's proper Swedish title) at the Palace I decided that I'd take myself off to the movies tonight (since I've essentially done nothing much of note for the whole of this Anzac Day public holiday) and everything just fell into place very nicely.

The DVD I was watching finished at just the right time, I got a park on Rundle Street with a minimum of fuss, I got to skip the very long ticket line (note to self, the candy-bar does still sell tickets, so if necessary, skip line and buy from there), and nobody ended up sitting next to me.

I will just give a couple of quick brickbats though... to the staff at the Palace, please get your air-conditioning checked... I had a slight problem with it going from acceptable to very cold last Tuesday, but tonight I had to put my jacket over my knees to keep warm, that's just not right. And to the incredibly annoying middle aged woman who laughed at a couple of totally inappropriate moments and who let out a startled shriek at a moment that was being telegraphed a mile off, first off why the hell did you have to sit in front of me and secondly, please stay home from now on.

After the movie I went and bought myself a hot chocolate, wandered up and down Rundle Street with it before getting back to the car. Once I was in the car it started to bucket down with rain (which it has been doing on and off all day), and continued to do so all the way home, but when I got back it stopped just long enough for me to get into the house. Perfect.

I was thinking about it while wandering Rundle Street and I honestly can't remember the last time I went to the movies on a Saturday night... and alone on a Saturday night too. Saturday afternoons, sure, but not after dark.

And after dark brings me full circle back to Let The Right One In.

I don't think it's really giving away too much plot to quote the synopsis for this movie for anybody who might never have heard of it... "Oskar, a bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a peculiar girl who turns out to be a vampire."

This is also unlike any vampire movie I've ever seen.

Partly because the vampire stuff is almost secondary, and partly because there aren't many vampire movies that concentrate solely on a child vampire. At least not ones that aren't aimed at a PG rated market.

But it is a beautiful movie and one that is almost told exclusively by the images. There really isn't that much dialogue, and what there is (with the exception of one or two key pieces) could almost be done away with. I found myself wondering at one point how this would have played as a silent movie.

Because of the sparse dialogue, sound obviously plays an incredibly important part in this movie... but they didn't go over the top with the sounds because of the lack of speech... from the silence over the opening titles and the very soft sound of snow falling, to things being softly heard before they're seen, it's much, much more about the very faint soundscape.

There also seemed to be a particular emphasis on colour. I'm guessing it was intentional, although I could be wrong. Because the movie is set in winter the background palette is essentially neutral tones, white and black mostly (the snow and the night), and even Oskar is blonde to the extreme (very, very, very blonde and with very faint blonde eyebrows)... but he also seemed to have a lot of bright sky blue used in his costuming. Like I said though, I could have been reading too much into it.

And speaking of the lead characters, for kids who don't appear to have done any kind of acting before, they were phenomenal. Neither of them took a wrong step and were so incredibly natural (even in the scenes that were anything but natural) that I was really impressed by the pair of them. Although some of the adult characters have probably been in a range of things they all felt very authentic too (but that could just be because they were Swedish actors and I didn't recognise any of them).

While I don't have that great a knowledge of Swedish cinema (or Swedish anything really), the movie does feel "very Swedish", or at the very least it feels particularly European... there's a slowness and feeling of weight to this that you just don't get in American movies. At the same time there seemed to be this underlying current to it that made me a little uneasy. Not about the vampire stuff, I didn't have any problem with any of that, but there's an undercurrent of "preteen sexuality" that's part of the relationship between the two lead characters that felt very European, but at the same time a touch unsettling.

There's also what I thought was either just a very Swedish vibe or else a particularly 70's vibe to the look of the clothes, it was most apparent in Oskar's whole look... hair, clothes, everything... turns out it's actually neither, the movie is supposed to be set in 1982 although that's never mentioned explicitly (or at least not that I remember).

From the "vampire movie" perspective it was interesting to see what mythology they used (and how) and what they didn't use. I did find myself wondering if there was some sort of specifically Swedish vampire a few times, but they did check off a large number of the usual vampire cliches, one or two of which were used to great effect.

I also have to give the film makers extreme kudos for the very subtle digital work on Eli's eyes at various points in the movie. There's really only a couple of spots where it draws attention to itself, but those are when it's supposed to. I'm guessing that on repeated viewings more of those might become apparent. While we're on the subject of digital work however, there is one scene using digital cats that frankly stuck out like a sore thumb.

But the good very much outweighs the bad.

So basically what you get with this movie is a particularly Swedish coming of age vampire story without a fang to be seen anywhere but with plenty of bite.

yani's rating: 3 Rubik's cubes out of 5

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