Combustible Celluloid
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With: Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff, Jörgen Thorsson, Ann Petrén, Sten Ljunggren, Kjell Wilhelmsen, Rakel Wärmländer, Andreas Kundler, Matti Boustedt, Tomas Åhnstrand, Josefin Neldén, Henrik Johansson
Written by: Ali Abbasi, Isabella Eklöf, John Ajvide Lindqvist, based on a short story by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Directed by: Ali Abbasi
MPAA Rating: R for some sexual content, graphic nudity, a bloody violent image, and language
Language: Swedish, with English subtitles
Running Time: 110
Date: 10/26/2018

Border (2018)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Body and Troll

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Based on a short story by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also gave us the incredible Let the Right One In, Ali Abbasi's Border is a queasy film, but carries through thanks to an amazingly sympathetic performance by Eva Melander, covered in a chunk of unpleasant makeup. (The movie received an Oscar nomination for its makeup.) She plays Tina, a strange-looking creature with stringy hair, a thick nose that pushes her eyes into little beads, and a mouth that hangs open in a perpetual frown, emphasized when she sniffs, which is frequently. She has the power to smell human emotions, and so she has a job working as a border guard, sniffing out the guilt and shame of possible smugglers or illegals. She lives with a man, Roland (Jörgen Thorsson), who seems more focused on training dogs than on Tina. One day, she sniffs out a memory card with child pornography on it, and agrees to help the police find its origin. At the same time, she meets a man at the border, Vore (Eero Milonoff), who has a similar facial structure to hers. She becomes intrigued and begins spending time with him, and learning a bit more about who she is, both heritage-wise, and on the inside as well. Abbasi shoots in a gray, chilly palette, not shying away from the so-called ugliness of Tina and Vole. But the miracle of the movie is that, the more it goes on, the more we begin to empathize with Tina, and to see her as quite beautiful after all.

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