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Saturday, 12 September 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Let The Right One In




Here I have on my hands today is a movie which has been highly anticipated by myself and rather unique in cinema in that it's attention is not coming from resounding box-office success or awards or critical acclaim, but more on the power of word-of-mouth. Let The Right One In has been creeping around the whispers of film fans for much of the past year. As a result of these whispers and missing the film in the cinema, I eventually bought the book, thinking that this may well be just an alright book which has made into a greatly successful film. However, I fell in love with John Ajvide Lindqvist's book. The story itself is an absolute original, the likes of which are hard to come across these days in all forms of creativity, so there is already solid footing, with Lindqvist serving here as screenwriter adapting his own book. The story goes that young loner Oskar, an eleven-year-old Swedish boy in the 1980's, who live with his single mother, meets the mysterious Eli, who has moved in next door. A friendship develops between the two, with the discovery by Oskar with regards to Eli's strange habits that she is a vampire. While this is revealed by confession relatively well into the movie it's not exactly a spoiler, of which there are numerous plot twists and turns throughout, though none are really inappropriate. To start with what is good about the movie, let's start with the two young leads. The entire movie is laid upon the shoulders of the two leads in this film, and if these roles were to be unsuccessful and unconvincing then the whole movie would have been for nought. When casting the film, it took the film-makers over a year of auditions to find their two leads, something which is unheard of today with regards to a casting process. The meticulousness of the casting process has paid off to say the least. Kare Hedebrant gives a strong performance as the twisted and tormented young Oskar, creating a genuinely scary at times child but never unsympathetic despite his introverted and ocassionally violent tendancies. These aspects of angst and reclusion are really well contrasted with the more relatable aspects of his character, that of the inner child in everyone which we can all relate to. Also, Lina Leandersson delivers her role as the young vampire with great intelligence. Similar to the role played by Hedebrant, she must contrast a different aspect of her character, that of being a supernatural creature, with that of the character original being and instinct in many ways, the inner child. The aspect of childhood and inner child is explored brilliantly in this film, and both of the lead actors are certainly in the short-lists for my year-end awards for lead acting. Also solid with regards to this film is the direction of Tomas Alfredson, who truthfully brings to the screen, excuse the cliche, an unfilmable book. He has quite obviously done great work with the lead actors, making their chemistry and relationship work brilliantly and consistently throughout. Also, this is a film which does not go over-the-top with regards to it's direction. Alfredson directs with such restrain but dedication to the material throughout that one cannot help but admire what he has crafted, and himself is on the short-list for the year-end awards. Another aspect of the film which worked for me surprisingly well was the composition. Normally, while I do not like to say I like a specific type of composition, I absolutely hate it whenever films have scores which tell me when to laugh, when to cry et al. However, the score of this film, which is one of these grand scores filled with orchestra to convey emotion, actually fits with this film. It did not annoy me, and I was very concious of this throughout. I think that this score which was full of emotion perfectly fitted the delicate poetic romanticism which is prominent throughout, but is also reminiscent of Pan's Labrinyth in it's dark fairy-tale manner. Finally, the cinematography, while certainly nothing new or innovative, is perfect for this film and not over-the-top, once again perfectly restrained with story and emotion being key. So, I'm one is under the assumption by now they are reading a glowing review? Well you're right, but one can't help but point out one specific flaw which stops it from hitting the upper echelons of film. Yes, the film is certainly a masterpiece, but there is one specific flaw which really annoys me. In this story, there is a sub-plot which is in more detail in the book, which I have no problem with but here, the characters still play a key part to the story, but their characters are very two-dimensional, despite their key part in moving the story on and getting a great amount of screen-time. Now Lindqvist, while being perfect for the job of writing a screenplay to his book, has a tough job, which while at times admirably handled, particularly with regards to Oskar and Eli, is not entirely pulled off. Whereas the character of Hakan is stripped down brilliantly, removing an entire sub-plot involving him, but keeping certain elements which make his character fit in, the characters of Lacke, Gosta, Virginia and Jocke are merely there and completely undeveloped despite their significant screen-time in the supporting manner. While obviously things must be stripped down in adaptation, this aspect is not pulled off properly and proves to be a great annoyance. However, despite this Lindqvist screenplay is the nice, lighter and poetic side of the Let The Right One In story as opposed to the dark, brutal nihilism in which Oskar and Eli's friendship emerges. All in all, bare the odd screenplay problem, which should have been expanded, although it is hard to balance this between the focus on Oskar and Eli, the film is a masterpiece and a true original, bringing an amazing to life onscreen and exposing a modern-day fairy tale to a wider audience.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 9.0/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Touched

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