Saturday, March 28, 2009
Let the Right One In
Ever feel like this as a 12/13 year old? I know I did. I just didn't get how the world worked. Why did everyone hate me? Why did nothing make sense? Why did I feel so deeply and profoundly about every little thing that I'd end every day with a stress headache? Let the Right One In somehow manages to capture this tension of being a kid in a screwed up world.
First of all, this movie is technically fabulous. The imagery accentuates the sense of isolation in this block building in a little neighborhood in a little town outside of Stockholm. Effects are used (my heavens the effects!) sparingly and perfectly timed for purposes other than, "see how cool it is to make movies these days?" In fact the effects are sometimes in the background...if you're looking at the nurse you may miss what's going on up the side of the building.
But I haven't even said what the movie is. It's a vampire movie. People die horrible deaths. The vampire does what she has to do to survive.
The movie is really about Oskar. He's a gangly 12 year old (he'll be tall when he grows up) with the universe's worst haircut. He lives with his mom, who barely registers on his consciousness, and visits his dad way out in the boondocks. He's picked on. He carries a little knife and dreams of sticking up for himself. He spends a lot of time by himself. He takes up weightlifting, patently ridiculous because he's just a kid. And he meets Eli.
Here is where the movie just does it for me. How could they have known what it's like? Maybe the creators just have the best memories, I don't know. But even when these two meet, they go through the rituals of kid-dom. "What are you doing?" "Nothing." "What are YOU doing?" "Nothing." They ask ridiculous questions. "Where do you live?" "Here." Of course there's nowhere else, other than the building. The pain, of trying to talk to someone, in the hope, the all-consuming hope, that maybe this one won't pick on me, maybe they'll be on my side, so maybe she's something of a freak, but maybe it means I'm not such a freak...my goodness, this movie gets it all. It takes days and days for them to negotiate this friendship.
I didn't send this one back to Blockbuster right away, because I thought I'd watch it again, particularly to write about it, but I can't do it. It's like scratching an itchy scar...it feels good but it's potentially damaging. With time, I'm sure I'll go back to it. It's too profound not to.
Both Ebert and Jim Emerson at Scanners have written beautifully about the film, so go there for good criticism...
**UPDATE** Manohla Dargis on the film, and comments.
Last thought-- Don't dub! I hate dubbing! I can't hear how the actors originally delivered the lines! Even if I don't know what the words are, I want to hear how it was said!!!!