It’s powerfully ridiculous, and wonderfully mad, but genuinely there is nothing like it, and that is absolutely a great feeling to become possessive about
How rare is it to discover a film with truly original meaning? Perhaps not as rare as it may seem, but enabling that to put forward an idea that transcends the fantasy genre, whilst entering our own modern world, is a truly remarkable achievement. Border, the Swedish entry to foreign language category at the 91st edition of the Academy Awards, is a film desperate to tell its story, in the most bizarre way possible.
Tina (Eva Melander), a border patrol officer who struggles with facial deformities, has an incredible ability to smell emotions on other humans, particularly that of fear and guilt. After picking out one traveller stinking of corrupt emotions, his memory card filled with child pornography is exposed, and he is detained.
Drafted in by the police to continue their investigation into the case, Tina is used as a priceless tool for finding other culprits. However her discovery of a man with similar facial features to herself becomes a great sidetrack, pulling Tina’s attention away from the case.
Border’s ability to shock is essentially unparalleled. It has a unique ability to expose its mysterious and unpredictable story line, yet when taken out of context, becomes entirely ridiculous. The fantastical side of the film is ultimately its main draw, but when its themes and ideas become more prominent, it’s clear how powerful Border is as a piece of film making.
It’s notions towards societal hierarchy, understanding how evil manifests itself, and unpredictable emotions, offers a truly unique experience, that manages to say as much with its heavy makeup and wild fantasy scenes, as it does with its deep script and wonderfully directed drama.
Eva Melander offers a truly unrecognisable turn as Tina, and selling the role, and her own misunderstanding, is absolutely vital to Border’s success. Almost as a tandem piece between Melander and director Ali Abbasi, John Ajvide Lindqvist’s short story is translated into a beautiful piece of film making that offers nothing short of sheer depth and powerful mystery.
It is entirely weird, and for some will become increasingly repulsive as its story steadily reveals itself, but behind that is a the true work, with the superficial character design merely acting as a top later to Border’s true meaning. It’s powerfully ridiculous, and wonderfully mad, but genuinely there is nothing like it, and that is absolutely a great feeling to become possessive about.
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