A drama that starts to become more and more fantastical, Border is a unique and disturbing vision from director Ali Abbasi, who also worked with John Ajvide Lindqvist and Isabella Eklöf to adapt Lindqvist's short story into screenplay form. Lindqvist is still probably best known for writing Let The Right One In, this shows him once again using genre ideas in a restrained and very interesting way.
Eva Melander plays Tina, a customs officer who can smell when people have something preying on their mind. This helps her in her job, and it also leads to her helping the police with a very disturbing investigation that highlights the worst aspects of humanity. But Tina starts to change her view of the world around her, and what she is willing to accept, when she meets Vore (Eero Milonoff). Vore is very much like Tina. The two look similar, they have anatomical anomalies, and they can use heightened senses to intimidate others around them.
Although this is not a film to easily recommend to people, it is one worth trying to ensure more people check out. It's not an easy ride, with both the more upbeat and more downbeat aspects of the storyline being potentially offputting to viewers, but it's a rewarding experience for those who decide to go along for the ride.
Melander is very good in her role, one that requires her to spend a lot of her time simply looking sullen or impassive. It's when she does get to show emotion that you realise how good she is acting throughout the whole film, marking those scenes as important steps along the way to the finale. Milonoff is also very good, although his role is a more simplistic one (in many ways) he is always believable as someone who has embraced his nature and is now looking to help someone else do the same. There are a few others in the cast, enough to open up the scope slightly, but the main person worth mentioning is Jörgen Thorsson, playing Roland, a character who seems to stay with Tina out of some sense of convenience and the idea that he can usually get his own way.
The script is interesting in the way it builds one detail at a time to lead viewers towards a third act that is very much in the realms of the supernatural and fantastic. Dialogue is often sparse, due to the nature of the characters, but that doesn't stop the information being conveyed in every scene. And it doesn't stop viewers from having a LOT to ponder once the end credits have rolled.
The second feature from Abbasi, who cut his teeth on a couple of short films that seem to have established his main interests from the very beginning, this marks him out as someone to keep a close eye on. Not only does he wrangle the ideas into something that poses questions, answers them, and leaves you wanting to know more, it also has a fine selection of gorgeous images tucked in between the uglier moments.
Despite the strangeness of the central characters, there's still a lot here to identify with, in terms of how it explores how people struggle to accept themselves and how being part of the human race means learning to deal with the bad and the good.
You can buy the movie here.
Americans can buy it here.