There’s No Place Like Home
As a foreigner living in a foreign
Director/screenplay-writer Ali Abbasi was born in Tehran, and now lives in Sweden with dual nationality. Still relatively young in his directing career he has just released his second major feature ‘Border’ (2018) based on the short story ‘Gräns’ by John Ajvide Lindqvist. John is also the author of the incredible ‘Let the Right One In’, which of course went on to become the movie of the same name in 2008.
‘Let the Right One In’ was masterful in creating a vampire horror tale, that blended everyday familiarity, the mundane, children, friendships, alienation, the normal, but all marinated in blood, human darkness and a deep pervading unease.
There are similar themes in ‘Border’ that are only enhanced by Ali’s deft direction and the fact that he is not from Sweden where the movie was filmed, all the forest scenes have the power and intensity of seeing a new planet for the first time.
The subject of the film is Tina (Eva Melander), who works at the Swedish customs office checking passengers disembarking the local ferry, who may be returning with goods that are not permitted. She has an unusual ability that profoundly helps her profession in that she has the ability to literally smell shame and guilt on people. It wafts like pungent perfume from their pores, raising alarm bells in her head, and she is never wrong.
She may have been blessed with these powers that have enhanced her life, but they also alienate her from her peers, which is only solidified by her physicality that she is told to be a genetic abnormality, but which to all extents makes her look like a missing link in human evolution and adding to her woes, she has some mysterious old scar marks on her back.
She’s excellent at her job, but she feels and is treated
This peace is ruptured with the encounter of another individual (Eero Milonoff ) with similar distinguishing features to Tina passes through her custom checks. Her trustworthy senses are sent spinning, yet unusually come up false,
Nature is at the core DNA of ‘Border’, in the wild environments, but also human, both beautiful and extremely dark. The more we condition ourselves and move away from where we came from, the sicker and darker we become as a species. We may construct ever elaborate or vile distractions, but realistically we are slowly killing ourselves. The stuff we have conditioned ourselves to believe and see as good
‘Border’ is hugely successful at creating a world that is immediately familiar, yet skewed. We are at once comfortable, and ever increasingly uneasy. I went into the film knowing very little about the movie except for anecdotal praise, and I’m glad I did. Your own disorientating and discomforting perceptions mirror Tina’s as she navigates through the extremely dark woods of her home, modern society
The confidence Abbasi shows in holding all the various elements together to keep a thread of coherency in an ever bizarre tale is incredible. There
The two leads are outstanding, but particularly Eva who’s fear and vulnerability shine through extremely deep layers of incredibly