Border (Gräns)

From the writer of the highly acclaimed Let The Right One In, John Ajvide Lindqvist, short story Gräns (Border) is adapted to the screen by second time feature film director Ali Abbasi. Like Let The Right One In, Border is a low key fantastical drama, centred upon border customs guard Tina (Eve Melander), who has a curious ability to smell guilt and shame of passers by, making her the perfect employee. Despite looking a bit sub-human, her appearance hasn’t got in the way of having a good relationship with her neighbours and even has a live-in boyfriend with prize rottweilers, not that the dogs are taken to her. Her life is steady if not a little unfulfilled but she has questions. Her father is in a retirement home and losing his memory. When a confident and similar looking stranger Vore (Eero Milonoff) crosses her path, her senses go haywire. There is an immediate magnetism. When the magnetism between the two draws them together, Tina is to discover who she really is and that she has been lied to her whole life. But Tina’s mysterious stranger has some dark secrets of his own that will leave her with a very difficult choice.

There’s much to admire in the execution of Border. It’s delicately paced though out, with a very tight script that always keeps throwing up interesting twists and titbits. The feat really lies in integrating folklore into a very familiar and real world. The two leads play their parts well and create moments of real tenderness between them. But it’s low-key status throughout perhaps holds back it’s true potential. Nothing ever really explodes or temporarily disrupts the tempo. The visual and soundscape are  adequate for the film, but a more daring approach could have given Border that extra thrill to make it stand-out. All in all you can’t but help appreciate that Border feels original. I know that I am in a different camp here, but I believe Let Me In bettered the original and likewise Border feels like a second take could really make it a magical affair.

★★★

Chris Aitken

Border is on release 26th October

 

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