282. Let the Right One In (Sweden 2008)
Director: Thomas Alfredson
Starring: Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar
Music: Johan Soderqvist
Cinematography: Hoyte Van Hoytema
Novel/Screenplay: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Bit Parts: No-one you'd know of. Really, I'm not being patronising.
In one line: a vampire and her blood-procurer move into a wintry Stockholm housing estate.
Twelve year old Oskar lives a lonely life on a dismal, seemingly deserted housing estate with his divorced mother. He is tormented by bullies at school. Eli, a twelve year old girl moves in to the flat next door. She is looked after by the ageing Hakan, A hesitant friendship develops between Oskar and Eli, but unbeknown to the boy, the girl is a vampire. Hakan procures the bodies for his ward, but when he is caught, Eli must find her own victims. Hakan disfigures himself with acid so that he will not be connected with a string of many murders and Eli is left alone. Oskar offers Eli a quiet companionship; Eli offers Oskar a chance to assert himself with the bullies. When Eli reveals her true self, Oskar is initially repelled, but a combination of events soon leads them back together...
A tremendous film. Lyrical, melancholic (in a good way) and quite beautiful. Let the Right One In owes a lot to Lasse Hallstrom's My Life as a Dog - especially in its depiction of the confusing dilemmas of burgeoning adolescence, the quiet aloofness of its leads and its odd, unnecessary interludes of disturbing pervyness.
Lead actors Hedebrant and Leanderson are both excellent, but it's obviously Leanderson's film. Her portrayal of the eternally condemned-to-be 12 years old Eli is a little masterclass of less is more and the two occasions where she morphs into her true animal self (and in doing so, looks like UK seventies superbike champion Ron Haslam) almost made me soil my breeks. Twice.
Ron Haslam: Planet of the Apes
The story is set in the miserable Stockholm estate of Blackeberg. It's supposed to be set in the 80s, but the mise en scene is often difficult to pin down as clothing styles, haircuts, rooms and furniture veer towards the seventies or just don't seem to be important beyond some obvious nods to a notoriously awful decade. Hence the film's Citizen Kane snow globe is a Rubik's cube* which serves as a symbol of friendship, childhood and innocence as it is passed from the almost translucent blonde haired Oskar to his physical obverse, the dark haired eastern European Eli.
"Giz a fuckin, ciggy, lad!" Hakan's cruel disfigurement makes him forget his manners.
The estate has its own pub filled with a collection of late middle-aged pisshead losers such as the unfortunate Ginia (who gets attacked by cats in the film's least credible section) and the meffy Jocke - who even though his name is pronounced 'Yaw-keh' still gives rise to visions and memories of Kircaldy's finest darts player, the outsized Yawkeh Wilson.
The unfortunate Jocke Wilson finds out about the immutable laws of combustion the hard way: you must never light a ciggy stump and a fart at the same time
The film ends on one of those brilliant, ambiguous, conundrums which allows for all sorts of personal speculation in much the same manner as Cagney's cowardly (?) screaming in Angels With Dirty Faces or the scooter crash in Quadrophenia or even the transubstantiation motif at the end of Man About the House - The Movie.
Before that, narrative business is taken care of in a highly satisfying manner and there's the best ever 'training-shoes-running-along-the-top-of-a-public-swimming-baths' scene you're ever likely to see.
The direction is low-key and very un-Hollywood - the vampire attacks are usually framed in long shot and often kept to one static shot - rather than the usual rapid editing and series of close-ups we've come to expect.
"Your house is really shit, Haslam."
"Fuck off, Biley."
An American version is obviously in the 'offing', but you know it will be shit, so it's not worth getting upset about.
Just watch the original - if you haven't already - and just give the 'it'll be the same as the American Wicker Man" a miss.
Let the Right One In is the best vampire film in a very long time.
Fantastic in all almost every respect.
*There was a an ace joke in the 80s: what's big and square and hairy? A pubic cube.
It was the big that got me.