Another tale of fantastical reality from the author of Let the Right One In is certainly something to pip your interest.
As a customs officer, Tina (Eva Melander) has a remarkable gift, an ability to smell the feelings of other individuals. It is a gift that has enabled her to make a place for herself, even though her looks and behaviour sets her apart from the rest of humanity. However when an individual (Eero Milonoff) has strikingly similar features to her – a pronounced forehead ridge and jutting teeth – she smells something that she has never smelled before, a kindred spirit. One with clues to her past, and a mysterious agenda of his own.
Although there is a lyrical beauty to many of the nature shots in Border, it is not a film that really draws you in with the power of it’s cinematography. Instead it is in the intriguing story that it is telling, and the life given to those characters by the two leads. It’s safe to say that you will not see a performance that is akin to Eva Melander, as she brings Tina into bizarre and quirky life. Melander gives us a range of reactions that are utterly incomprehensible from a standard human being, but completely in keeping with the character she is playing. Every stance, nuance of reaction, flinch, grunt and snarl is alien, and yet believable and understandable. She is submersed in the role, and what could easily be something oddly unbelievable is brought to achingly beautiful life. Similarly Eero Milonoff as Vore brings a strange charisma with him. Repellent and intriguing in equal quantity, you are never sure of his motivation or intentions.
More remarkable still is that these believable performances are occurring under a large amount of prosthetic and makeup. Both characters experience life on the screen, a real existence, despite their unlikely look. Design, makeup, actors and cinematography all work in perfect harmony here, creating an almost cinema variate, rather than a magical reality. As such the matter of fact style of cinematography is forgivable, and the what and who of its telling takes centre stage.
The centre though is the strange tale that it tells, based on John Ajvide Lindqvist’s short story Gräns. It would be an injustice to not let you discover that through the course of the narrative, but suffice to say it touches upon the author’s love of supernatural elements, as well as sharing an outsider’s examination of society, and some darker themes lying just beneath the surface. Border is not merely a beautiful character study of Tina, but has a number of twists along the way.
The combined result makes Border a unique piece of cinema that tells a story much different to so much of our multiplex fare. Unique, dark and complex.