LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
The 12 year old fragile Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is the victim of school bullies, and when 12 year old Eli (Lina Leandersson) moves in next door with her father, his wish for a true friend seems to have come true. However, there is something strange about Eli - and Oskar eventually figures out that she's a vampire. But by now, a subtle romance has blossomed between them, and she gives him the strength to fight back against his aggressors. Aware of the tragic dimensions of Eli's plight, Oskar cannot bring himself to forsake her - and she in turn comes to his aid when he needs it most.
Review by Louise Keller:
How vampire movies have changed, babe. A bewitching film about the relationship between two twelve year olds, when one is a vampire, this delicate Swedish offering explodes with understatement, unfathomable longing coupled with bloody murder whose vivid red trail rests on virgin snow. John Ajvide Lindqvist's adaptation of his novel is beautifully concise, as is Tomas Alfredson's tantalizing direction. To top it off, we are treated to two astonishing performances from a pair of young screen misfits whose innocence and evolving worldliness collide in spectacular fashion.
Kåre Hedebrant's Oskar is a pale, puny blond kid with shoulder length hair who stabs tree trunks in frustration against the kids at school who give him a hard time. Lina Leandersson's Eli is a vampire in the body of a dark-haired little girl with a face as old as time, who kills to survive. When they meet one night in the snow outside the ugly apartment building in which they both live, they instinctively sense they are kindred spirits. Alfredson allows the story to unravel with subtlety and restraint. We are introduced to the two central characters, their environment and situation before the nitty gritty of the relationship begins. The journey they take is like a gift, waiting for discovery. Nothing is rammed down our throats; it's as if Alfredson turns on a light in a window and we are drawn to it like a moth.
The stark white snowy setting plays a major part in the narrative as Oskar and Eli make a commitment to each other. It is a matter-of-fact way in which Oskar asks 'Are you a vampire?' and an equally pragmatic response when Eli admits to have been 12 for a long time. There is something intangible that links them and each shows he/she is prepared to go to any lengths for the other. We have sympathy only for them, so we are guilty by compliance when Oskar's school mates and Eli's prey meet their fates. In the wake of Twilight, which beckoned us into a new world of vampire movies, this well crafted film is a gem worth admiring.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Almost ethereal, subtle, nuanced and the calmest vampire movie you're ever likely to see, Let The Right One In is also a pre-teen love story of simple yet powerful proportions. The genre is subverted in the best possible way by Tomas Alfredson and the audience is assumed to have a reasonable intelligence level. The economical script works at our hearts and minds, aided by all the tools of cinema. Alfredson's choice of camera placement is exemplary, sometimes showing us action in long shots that in any other vampire film would be shot in close up.
The condition is treated as a curse, which is not in itself original, but the characters and the context make it so. Kåre Hedebrant is perfectly cast as the frail youngster, long blond hair and pale skin combined with a trepidation born out of instinctive unassertiveness. Lina Leandersson is even more striking as the girl who is 12 but has been 12 for a very long time. Their friendship is understated in a way that shows great observation of children, and it delivers a punchy pay-off.
I especially like Alfredson's unhurried, unfussy filmmaking style, the sparseness adding tension and intrigue with little effort; we are drawn into the film and its characters and allowed to participate in a gratifying way as the story unfolds. But you do have to pay attention and avoid jumping to conclusions at any stage. A fresh and diverting vampire movie, this is one for those who have tasted superior blood ...
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LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (MA)
Låt den rätte komma in
CAST: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl, Karin Bergquist, Peter Carlberg, Ika Nord, Mikael Rahm, Karl-Robert Lindgren, Anders T. Peedu, Pale Olofsson
PRODUCER: John Nordling, Carl Molinder
DIRECTOR: Tomas Alfredson
SCRIPT: John Ajvide Lindqvist
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Hoyte van Hoytema
EDITOR: Dino Noren, Tomas Alfredson
MUSIC: Johan Söderqvist
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Eva Noren
RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Vic: March 5; NSW: March 19, 2009