Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is a lonely 12-year-old living in the suburb of Blackeberg, Stockholm. He suffers from relentless bullying at school and dreams of one day getting revenge. He befriends his next door neighbour, Eli (Lina Leandersson), a somewhat strange but lovely girl who only appears in the courtyard playground at night. She has odd habits, such as she can’t stand food or sunlight, and has to be invited into a room before she can enter. Time passes, and Oskar soon discovers the root of all of Eli’s oddities, and he is faced with a decision. Exactly how much can love forgive?
In preparation for Talking Stars’ Foreign Horror episode, a film I decided to watch was Let the Right One In. The Swedish horror from 2008 was highly commended by critics, and is a film that is also being highly commended by me.
Both performances by the lead actors were absolutely sublime. For me, I find that performances in foreign films have to go that extra mile to make up for having to read all of the dialogue, as opposed to taking it in straight from the actors’ mouths. I think that the subtitles add quite a bit of distance between you and the characters, so there has to be more of a physical presence with the acting, if that makes any sense.
Kåre Hedebrant played Oskar and was someone you really felt for. The story of a bullied child, when done well, always tends to be a touching one, but factor in the prospect of a potentially forbidden friendship and suddenly it seems another layer of desperation has been added. Hedebrant’s portrayal of Oskar was quite basic, but at the same time it felt as though there was quite a complex process in place. With the character of Oskar, it was more about the smaller details, such as subtle glances and gestures, and it was incredibly effective.
This was very much the same case with Lina Leandersson’s performance as Eli. Once again, it was a minimalist show that achieved all it set out to in my opinion. You felt invested in her character, and kind of hoped for Oskar’s sake that she could find a way to make their friendship work. Leandersson was very rewarding to watch, and as I’ve previously said her portrayal of Eli half made up for having to read my way through the film.
Despite being billed as a horror, Let the Right One In wasn’t very horrific. In fact, it was oddly beautiful. The tagline for the film is “How much can love forgive?”, and I don’t think anything could’ve been more apt. Amongst the very well-written storyline and top performances was a heartfelt message that showed true friendship can overcome all and any barriers. This is something that sticks in my mind about the film, and is probably why I think it had such a profound impact on me.
All in all, Let the Right One In is a truly stunning film that I would recommend anyone watch. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing from beginning to end and would happily watch it again. Even those of you expecting full-on horror will find it hard to be disappointed by it as it is such a terrific watch.