Border (3 stars)

Border

The writer of Let the Right One In is the source of a strange Scandinavian fantasy from director Ali Abbasi

Blending Nordic Noir with a magical realist fable, Border is a very strange film. Based on a tale by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who wrote teenage vampire classic Let the Right One In, it marks the second feature by Iranian-born, Scandinavia-based writer-director Ali Abbasi, following 2016's surrogate parent nightmare Shelley.

It introduces us to Tina (Eva Melander), a customs officer working in a Swedish coastal town. Almost Neanderthal-like with her snub nose and sallow skin, Tina is destined to be forever the outsider. Despite living with her good-for-nothing dog breeder boyfriend Roland (Jörgen Thorsson), she's lonely and frequently derided for her appearance. But she takes pride in her work, not least because she possesses a preternatural sense of smell which allows her to detect a person's fear or guilt. Early on, Tina sniffs out a man's stash of child pornography, a discovery that sets her on the trail of those creating the images.

While Border initially assumes the shape of a crime drama, it takes a different turn when Tina meets Vore (Eero Milonoff), who has a similar appearance to her own. Who is he? Or, more to the point, what is he? And what is Tina's relationship to his kind?

Digging into Scandi mythology, Border only gets weirder from here on in, with one sex scene where you simply won't believe your eyes. Kudos should go to Melander and Milonoff for performing so convincingly through layers of prosthetics. Yet, while Abbasi unpacks his allegorical tale about fear of the other with predominant care, he stumbles at points; this intriguing curio is hampered by its clumsy child pornography ring subplot, which distracts more than it delivers and thus never quite lands emotionally.

Selected release from Fri 8 Mar.

Border

  • 3 stars
  • 2018
  • Sweden / Denmark
  • 1h 50min
  • Directed by: Ali Abbasi
  • Cast: Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff, Jörgen Thorsson

Tina (Melander) is a customs officer in a Swedish coastal town, who has a strange appearance and a preternatural sense of smell. A very strange crime drama with a strong dose of Scandinavian mythology; intriguing, but hampered by its clumsy child pornography subplot.

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