I’m aware that critics say this about films all the time, but the less you know about ‘Gräns’ (a.k.a. ‘Border’) the better. It’s a quirky, strange, often delightful mix of genres made all the more thrilling by some of its delightful surprises.
Yet we’re tasked to say something about why you should seek out such a weird movie, so let’s simply posit that this a film unlike any other. Based on a short story by John Ajvide Lindqvist, the same scribe behind the cult classic ‘Let the Right One In’, the tale contains many of the elements that makes Scandinavian cinema some of the best in the world – quirky, memorable characters, surprising narrative turns, and an unapologetic use of genre conventions to both subvert expectations and entertain audiences. This is art film as entertainment, and for that alone it’s worth celebrating.
Helmed by Ali Abbasi, the film’s greatest gift is the transformative role played by Eva Melander as Tina. Her physicality and presence provide much of the story’s focus. Tina’s job as a border guard sniffing out trouble is our introduction into her world, a starting point that leads to a self-discovery that takes on mythic proportions.
Once again, to say much more would be to ruin the fun. While it’s near impossible in this age to go in as cold as one would hope, there’s still the warm thought that some audiences will be able to simply heed the advice to check it out without any preconceptions save that they’re in for something special, and be rewarded with a film that’s provocative and entertaining in equal measure. With sumptuous photography and a retinue of terrific performers, this Swedish film forms a new kind of myth, drawing upon aspects of Scandinavian legend to create something that’s both contemporary and timeless.
A strange, seductive delight, ‘Border’ is a pretty terrific movie that manages to craft and sustain its own sense of wonder while bringing us along for a bumpy yet enjoyable narrative ride.