|Directed by:||Tomas Alfredson|
|Written by:||John Ajvide Lindqvist|
|Cast:||Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson|
It's a simple enough premise - boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, something happens along the way to make boy question girl, girl ultimately shows true feelings for boy and the rest, as the say, is history. However, set this simple premise against an 1980's (though you can't really tell, and that's good, since it doesn't date the movie) Swedish background, throw in some gore and vampires, and you have one hell of a modern take on a classic love story cliche.
The book that the movie is based on is absolutely brilliant. It drips with atmosphere, deals with some dark and oft times taboo subject matter and provides gripping narrative and character developments that make you care about the people therein. Much of this has been translated to the feature film and is readily apparent from the opening scenes of Oskar practicing and mentally preparing himself to deal with some bullies at school (though he doesn't necessarily follow through). Some of the major plot points from the book have been removed, consequently changing the narrative for the film, but this is by no means a hinderance. On the contrary, the movie is particularly stream-lined and keeps moving at a brisk pace, only slowing when absolutely necessary (such as character exposition and development, but not to the point of banality).
Both of the characters taking up most of the spotlight for the film, Oskar and Eli (Kare Hedebrant and Lena Leandersson, respectively) are given subtle, moving performances. They play well off one another and make the audience genuinely believe that the two are in the midst of a blossoming romance, as childish as it may be. When Eli needs to be vicious, she is vicious. When Oskar needs to be withdrawn and submissive, he is. Much of their performances lie in the body language and expressions they use coinciding with their dialogue (Eli was voiced by the much more 'sinister' sounding Elif Ceylan), adding another level of depth and humanity to the roles.
The supporting cast is excellent as well, though not really the focus of the film. Eli's guardian Hakan (Per Ragnar) struggles constantly with his protection of/lust for Eli; Oskar's mother and father (Karen Bergquist and Henrik Dahl) play opposite sides of the parenting coin - one overbearing and overprotective (much like Hakan) and the other more removed; Conny (Patrik Rydmark), the oppressive and cruel bully; and Lack and Virginia (Peter Carlberg and Ika Nord), who are given their own subplot dealing with the spread of the vampire disease. They may not be on screen for long, but when they are, they give all around outstanding performances adding further to the humanity of the situation.
John Ajvide Lindqvist who penned the screenplay for the film as well as writing the original novel, has outdone himself again. I would imagine it would be tough to take your own piece of work and pare it down for the screen, having to decide what elements are important and what can be removed, but he has handled this task expertly. Director Thomas Alfredson has crafted a visual splendor that exemplifies minimalist doctrine, believing much more in quality rather than quantity. He allows Eli to be a brutal monster in the beginning, but over time, has her regain touch with her lost childhood and innocence as she builds a stronger relationship with Oskar. Additionally, keeping two children at the forefront of the movie, without having them become annoying or tedious to deal with, is also a welcomed change from many other children-centric films.
Much like Interview with the Vampire was a renewing take on classic vampire lore, Let the Right One In has updated and reinvigorated the mythos once again (just look at all the vampire movies that have come as an indirect result, both gory and romantic alike). I agree with those that think this is more of a love story, but the horror and gothic elements are there in spades and the narrative would be rendered powerless without them. Highly recommended for anyone interested in seeing the 2010 remake "Let Me In", fans of vampires and love stories (albeit unorthodox), and genre diehards.