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Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)

Film Five Stars
I've missed this film at two festivals now over the space of a year, and frankly I thought I was going to have to wait until release time to see what all the fuss has been about, because there has been a lot of fuss, and extremely positive fuss at that.

However for once the UK marketing companies were kind, or just saw sense for once, and put on regional press screenings - yes there are media outlets outside of the UK and ones which can't afford to head to London all the time.

Anyway, I digress, what of this tale of children, friendship, love and vampires?

Plot.pngLetTheRightOneIn.jpgOskar is a young boy who is experiencing difficulties at school. He's quiet, intelligent, and bullied. At home his family life is split, divorced parents, a mother who is over protective and struggling, and a father who has his own problems.

Then a young girl moves in next door and he is drawn to her. They meet a few times and begin to form a bond, except there's something different about her. She's wise, much more intelligent, doesn't feel the cold and never comes out during the day.

TheFilm.pngFrom the opening scene you can see how the film is going to play out. Long, slow, brooding shots which are beautifully framed, and that's true throughout the film. It is wonderfully shot and looks gorgeous.

I loved the closeness of the story and of the elegant use of framing and focus. These shots keep you close into the film and focussed on the characters, and not just visually.

That's a similar feeling to the one that comes through the story and the characters. There's a slow and very deliberate build to both aspects which helps make for a strong and engaging film.

Lina Leandersson, who plays the girl, is really very good. Her performance is mature and intelligent, thoughtful and filled with emotion. While not as strong, the performance of Kåre Hedebrant, who plays Oskar, is similar and carries many of the same traits. I enjoyed the quiet, slow scenes between the two and the trait his character had of chewing on the inside of his mouth while he contemplated something.

The dialogue and action between these two characters is beautifully written, and you can so easily see and feel the bond growing between them, even from the very first moments that the relationship begins. Some of these scenes are frankly beautiful to watch and are hugely touching. In parts the films has captured the very essence of the start of a relationship between two people, even if they are children.

There are a couple of scenes that really do demonstrate the wonderfully written, visualised and acted connection between the two characters, one is the scene in the playground where they begin the relationship, started over the sharing of the Rubik's Cube. The second is the scene where they lie in the same bed together, a scene which is far less disturbing than it might sound. I did feel a little awkwardness at the beginning of the scene, but it does turn out to be very touching.

There is a much darker side to the film as well, and particularly to this relationship. The girl isn't a girl, she's a vampire of an age and worldly wisdom much in excess of Oskar's years, and while the initial feelings of the story might be of friendship and love, I felt something much darker, of survival, necessity and indeed of grooming.

Looking back on the film I feel more and more that there's another side to the story and a side to the motivations of Eli which is far less innocent than the one I initially saw. Without going into too much detail I think it's clear that the character is much more malevolent than you might at first think.

To me it seems as though she has realised that the effectiveness of her human helper or servant is passing and that she needs to find someone else, and it almost seems that she is deliberately setting out to recruit, even entrap the boy. There's a brief moment with her ageing human helper that looking back might suggest he knows what she is planning and reflecting what once happened to him.

I'm not sure that's exactly what was intended, but looking back at it that's a distinct feeling I get from the story, and I rather like that dichotomy and the fact that it takes a little time for that understanding to develop.

It's not perfect though, and there was one point in the film where I was rather confused at where the story was going. We see Eli asking Oskar to be in her shoes at rather a critical point in their relationship, and it seems as though something more was about to happen than actually did. I found the way this idea was just left this a little confusing.

Another moment that didn't quite work for me was around the note that Eli left for Oskar. I was again feeling confused about the time line and what was intended by it. The plot line that should have fitted around it seemed slightly choppy and not fully explained.

However these are two little niggles that really didn't detract from the film, and neither did the more serious negative moments of the film, moments that some might find rather disturbing.

I'm not one of these leaping up and down people who get outraged at anything, far from it, I'm a very liberal and open person. However some people are commenting on the couple of scenes where we see the lead actor in his underpants and how that's distasteful and had them a little concerned.

While I see why they are, I don't feel these scenes are particularly bad, what I really objected to was the single close-up shot of the female leads' genitalia. Now it's quick, it may not be the young actress, or indeed a young girl, and the shot is from her standing so there is little to see, but it does seem a totally gratuitous shot that did make me feel rather uncomfortable, and that's usually a difficult thing to do.

I understand what the director was showing by the surrounding scenes, and actually they work just fine, I really don't understand why we need this further quick shot other than shock value, and this is a film that doesn't require any shocks at all. It both confused and bothered me.

There are some superbly handled moments throughout the film though, and not just as the relationship grows between the two leads, but also in the scenes that address the vampire aspect of the film.

We see a number of sequences where Eli does turn into a vampire and attack people, and again they are handled wonderfully. We never see the usual aspects of vampires, and instead most of the attacks are quick and rather understated, except for the pool scenes later in the film.

Without giving too much away this is perhaps where most of the violence occurs, but again it all happens off screen, or mostly off screen, as the director keeps us away from most of the action with an imaginative and visually engaging way.

There is one scene where we see the real vampire side of the character, and again it's kept simple and shows us just enough to unnerve the audience rather than going for complete shock and horror.

All the horror aspects of the story are kept focussed on reality and the film continually pulls towards the friendship and the characters, turning away from the usual gore and scare factor, and that adds a great deal to the film.

The ending was very satisfying and completed the film well, whether you thought that the story was the simple one of friendship and love shown on screen or the darker one told in between the lines of the story.

There also needs to be a mention of the locations and sets used in the film, both of which looked fantastic. The sets were minimalist and carried an older feel without seeming kitsch, while the locations gave a lot to the camera and the cinematography.

Overall.pngThis is a beautifully written, directed and acted story that shows another side to the dark and often gory vampire story by grounding it in the heart of a relationship between two very real people. The fact that they are children, well one is only a child on the outside, adds an extra richness to the story and the meaning.

Whether intentional or not, the fact that there's a completely different meaning to be taken from the relationship is a testament to the story and the film. I came away just beginning to realise this and it stayed with me as the film came back to my thoughts a number of times, and that's the mark of a very good film.

Despite a couple of small issues with the story there remains one worrying aspect of the film that I still can't quite shake off, and that's the aspect of the film captured in the one hugely gratuitous nude shot, and the lesser, unsettling scenes of the boy naked.

However much these scenes are unsettling, I should make it clear that overall the film is superb and I really do recommend it.

Buy or rent from LOVEFiLM
Buy from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
UK IMDB Film details



I totally agree with you on that shot of nudity, it really shocked me as well. I don't understand why they needed to include that shot as it was clear that Oskar was peeking at her so we didn't really need the shot there.

My feeling was that Eli was grooming him to be her new helper as in their first meeting she states that they can't be friends yet comes back to him on the subsequent nights and follows him around. Already she has interested him in knowing more about her. She also never states her age just that she has been 12 'for a long time' which to a young boy like Oskar could just seem like a couple years or months. She grows increasingly desperate in the second half of the movie after events unfold which I think is quite telling as well.

Even though she is a killer I still really liked her, it didn't seem like she particulary liked killing especially as her helper was the one who was getting the blood for her even though she showed she was more than capable. I really liked the scene where Oskar asked what happens if she wasn't invited in and like you I was confused when she dramatically asks him a question yet nothing seems to happen of it.

Though I do feel that she is grooming him I still liked their relationship and especially the ending scenes in the pool and the train. Definately one i'd watch again.

The novel goes into a bit more history and background on Eli which does explain the seemingly gratuitous nudity shot and should also clarify some, yet raise other gender issues.

I also left with the distinct and distasteful impression that Eli was grooming Oskar from the start as Eli's current carer becomes more and more inept at caring for his ward.

Glad you felt that grooming aspect too, but I have to say I thought that was a really clever and intelligent part of the script. I enjoyed that aspect.

I don't mean that she's grooming him in the typical sexual sense, but from the older person manipulating a clearly under-age and naive child for sinister means, and that is to be her new human helper.

I really loved that, and the distasteful feeling that came with it.

It's just that those nude shots just feel too much, for a film and story that are so subtle in absolutely everything else.

I'm intending to read the novel Stu, I really think there's a lot more to come from it, but there just wasn't the time on screen. I think it's a must read.

Michelle I love that scene too, one of those great scenes that explains what happens behind one of these mythological moments so often not examined in horror and fantasy films.

I have now had the opportunity to read the book and understand now I see what Stu meant in his comment about the nudity moment. There was alot of dialogue and plot movement after that moment in the book regarding Eli's past and gender which was not included in the film which makes me question why the director chose to include that shot and then not explain or follow it up afterwards.

Another exclusion from the book to film translation was that Eli's 'guardian' Hakan was very much a pedophile. Parts of the book involving Hakan I found really very disturbing and I'm glad that the director chose to exclude this aspect and just concentrate on the central story.

It definately worth reading the book to find out more about Eli and why she needs a guardian and her past. It made me realise what a great job the director did translating it to screen and I can't wait to view it again.

I'm really disappointed that the nudity in the film is even a talking point, let alone something that people found shocking, although I'm not surprised by it. I am however surprised to read that people were shocked by other scenes such as the lead role in his underpants? It's only now that I read this that it's become apparent to me that this would even offend anybody.

I actually really enjoyed everything about this film and feel the nudity scene was completely beneficial to it. The feeling of surprise that is produced by it completely puts you in the shoes of Oskar and I think it's a nice touch. Imagine the rest of the scene intact without that shot, it would have looked completely ridiculous. We know Eli is undressing, then we see the look of shock on Oskar's face without actually knowing what he saw, it would have looked like something from a Carry On film.

Anyway, I appluad the director on a thoroughly enjoyable film. Hopefully we'll see a lot more from him. And hopefully we won't see an American remake of Let The Right One In, Hollywood butchers enough good films as it is.

Sorry Oliver, the remake is going ahead.

I think you're over reacting to say that the film would look ridiculous without it. There's no requirement in the story for the scene at all, never mind the film, and I do agree that it looked totally gratuitous, after all I wrote the review!

However, I have since discovered something about that shot in that it is not a straight image of the female genitalia apparently, and it alludes to something much deeper about the novel that is not explored in the film, and that makes the inclusion of the scene even more strange.

I'm not going to ruin the novel by saying what the reason is, but it alludes to a subplot that is almost entirely removed from the film apart from that shot and two words. Michelle got it spot on in her comment.

I could see the use of the scene if the subplot from the novel was in there, otherwise I just don't see the need of it, or for the faux shock, especially in a film that is more thought provoking than shocking for the rest of it.

To me the "nudity" went hand in hand with her saying she was not a girl. To me it seemed like there was nothing there. Just a hint of what have been a girl sometime long in the past, but no longer a girl in any gender sense. The girlfriend I watched it with agreed and said there was something missing.

I loved the movie, each scene was a piece of art.
Will watch it many times again.

In my opinion, the meaning of the nude scene of Eli was to show that Eli used to be a boy. His/her genitals were cut off.
In the movie Eli said that she wasn't a girl...(at first i thought she meant to tell that she wasnt a girl but a vampire.) but she really was a boy. So i don't agree that the scene was completely useless storywise.


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