Each year, I try and improve the site, and also try to find a new an hopefully creative and fun way to countdown to the unveiling of the year’s BAM Awards. Last year, I posted most of the BAM Nominee and winner lists (Any omissions will be fixed this year). However, when I picked Django Unchained as the Best Picture of 2012 I then realized I had recent winner with no write-ups. I soon corrected that by translating a post and writing a series of my own. The thought was all films honored as Best Picture should have at least one piece dedicated to them. So I will through the month of December be posting write-ups on past winners.
Let the Right One In (2008)
Not that long before Twilight descended on the world Let the Right One In crept up on the United States in limited release. And I’m fairly sure that I got to see it before I subjected myself to that first work that purports to be a New Age vampire tale. Let the Right One In concerns a bullied boy, Oskar, who finds a most unusual ally, Eli, and is a film that’s surgically precise and brainy enough for viewers of all ages; demanding rather than seeking serious consideration and easily sustaining gravitas.
There are a lot of things that stand out about this film, not the least of which is that it was my first introduction to the work of John Ajvide Lindqvist. He’s the latest Swedish literary sensation and the most recent, most naturally presumed successor to the horror in commonplace crown that the still-alive-and-kicking Stephen King wears so well. I’ve not yet read this book, but I’ve read Lindqvist since this time and plan to continue doing so. What’s evidenced in this film is not just Alfredson’s fine direction (which is re-iterated in his follow-up Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) but also the quality and depth of Alqvist’s narrative.
Another testament to this tale that I can cite without even delving into the picture itself too deeply is the fact that this is one of the few foreign films of any ilk, much less one in the horror genre, that has spawned an American remake that comes anywhere near having the same tonal quality, emotional complexity, and performances on par with the original. Yes, as I cite in my review, Matt Reeves and crew get full marks for their Americanization, but the bones are there and if well-reproduced can create an engaging tale in almost any nation and language.
Getting down to the film in an of itself perhaps the most brilliant thing about this film is indeed the balance and the unusual co-existence of so many seemingly disparate elements. You have in this film horror and a coming-of-age, however, they co-exist in such a way that it’s not gimmickry or even overt commentary on either state of being. The given parameters of the situation complement each other so perfectly that once you’re eased in to the tale it seems like the most natural combination in the world.
Then you, of course, have the performances of Lina Leandersson and Kåre Hedebrant who have to play two very opposite characters and come to a mutual understanding. Leandersson is guarded, as one in her condition must be, and carefully examines her new friend to see if, in fact, he is the right one that must be let in. Hedebrant’s natural sensitivity allow him to convey a state or near perpetual petrification that is usually broken only by his fascination with his new friend and neighbor.
All this reasoning aside there is a moment, usually a more enigmatic, intangible one wherein a film’s Best Picture status makes itself clear; something I feel right in my gut. With this film it was the fact that, for the first time since early childhood, I was watching a movie I literally didn’t want to see the end of. That’s a kind of magic that’s hard to capture, but this film had the right elements in place, and a proper pace to make such a thought possible.
There are a few rarities and a first in this selection: although the second in a row, a foreign language film isn’t often my Best Picture, and as much as I love horror, it’s the only horror film to have claimed the top prize. Here’s hoping both those categories are represented again. If they are in the same film odds are Alqvist will have something to do with it.