miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Judge Death)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
We watched this last night, having had it sat on the side for a week or so. I rented it because lots of people told me it was excellent, but then left it sat there, telling myself I needed to be in the right mood to watch a foriegn language film, that I could only watch it when able to concentrate, etc... Foriegn language films have a bigger mountain to climb with me than Anglophone ones.

It was a bit slow to start, but I think that was necessary to get you used to the characters. Even though it has some truly graphically horrible moments (the spontaneous combustion scene, for instance, or the reveal of the acid-burned face), it doesn't feel like a horror film. It's an old-fashioned, slow-burning romance, with moments of bald comedy, and a sweet happy ending, for a given definition of sweet, and, indeed, happy. It doesn't pass the Bechdel test, although there are meaningful female characters in it; Oskar's mother is beautifully played, for example, but she only ever really interacts with Oskar. But I can forgive it that because the star of the film is undoubtedly the girl who plays Eli. Beautifully haunted, affecting and understated, she is the heart of this tale in every sense. She exudes oldness and sadness, and you can feel on a visceral level why Oskar is fascinated by her. The scene where she enters the house univited to show Oskar the consequences of doing so is so brilliantly played it brought a tear to my eye.

The minor characters in the film are very realistic: a bunch of drunks at the local bar; a kindly but ineffective couple of school teachers; Oskar's father and his gay lover; even the nurse of reception at the hospital. All of them feel like actual people. The nurse, for instance, is only in the film for maybe thirty seconds, yet she doesn't feel like a stock character or an afterthought. The bullies are well-drawn, especially the one blonde boy who is clearly joining in the bullying because he is more scared of the consequences if he doesn't than because he actually wants to. One of the lessons that I take from this film is that Sweden is chock full of talented child actors.

The climactic scene at the end, where Oskar's bullies have hit the crescendo of their torment and Eli comes back for him, is beautifully shot; the moment where the arm holding Oksar below the water descends disembodied before his eyes made me laugh aloud with delight. And that's what this film does: it takes the usual conventions of good and bad, tips them on their head, and makes you root for a (literally) cold-blooded killer against all the normal people.

I'd fully recommend giving this film a viewing, if you can stomach the unflinching style of the gory bits. I'd give it 8/10. You can watch the trailer here.

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About This Blog

Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.

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