Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)
However for once the UK marketing companies were kind, or just saw sense for once, and put on regional press screenings - yes there are media outlets outside of the UK and ones which can't afford to head to London all the time.
Anyway, I digress, what of this tale of children, friendship, love and vampires?
Then a young girl moves in next door and he is drawn to her. They meet a few times and begin to form a bond, except there's something different about her. She's wise, much more intelligent, doesn't feel the cold and never comes out during the day.
From the opening scene you can see how the film is going to play out. Long, slow, brooding shots which are beautifully framed, and that's true throughout the film. It is wonderfully shot and looks gorgeous.
I loved the closeness of the story and of the elegant use of framing and focus. These shots keep you close into the film and focussed on the characters, and not just visually.
That's a similar feeling to the one that comes through the story and the characters. There's a slow and very deliberate build to both aspects which helps make for a strong and engaging film.
Lina Leandersson, who plays the girl, is really very good. Her performance is mature and intelligent, thoughtful and filled with emotion. While not as strong, the performance of Kåre Hedebrant, who plays Oskar, is similar and carries many of the same traits. I enjoyed the quiet, slow scenes between the two and the trait his character had of chewing on the inside of his mouth while he contemplated something.
The dialogue and action between these two characters is beautifully written, and you can so easily see and feel the bond growing between them, even from the very first moments that the relationship begins. Some of these scenes are frankly beautiful to watch and are hugely touching. In parts the films has captured the very essence of the start of a relationship between two people, even if they are children.
There are a couple of scenes that really do demonstrate the wonderfully written, visualised and acted connection between the two characters, one is the scene in the playground where they begin the relationship, started over the sharing of the Rubik's Cube. The second is the scene where they lie in the same bed together, a scene which is far less disturbing than it might sound. I did feel a little awkwardness at the beginning of the scene, but it does turn out to be very touching.
There is a much darker side to the film as well, and particularly to this relationship. The girl isn't a girl, she's a vampire of an age and worldly wisdom much in excess of Oskar's years, and while the initial feelings of the story might be of friendship and love, I felt something much darker, of survival, necessity and indeed of grooming.
Looking back on the film I feel more and more that there's another side to the story and a side to the motivations of Eli which is far less innocent than the one I initially saw. Without going into too much detail I think it's clear that the character is much more malevolent than you might at first think.
To me it seems as though she has realised that the effectiveness of her human helper or servant is passing and that she needs to find someone else, and it almost seems that she is deliberately setting out to recruit, even entrap the boy. There's a brief moment with her ageing human helper that looking back might suggest he knows what she is planning and reflecting what once happened to him.
I'm not sure that's exactly what was intended, but looking back at it that's a distinct feeling I get from the story, and I rather like that dichotomy and the fact that it takes a little time for that understanding to develop.
It's not perfect though, and there was one point in the film where I was rather confused at where the story was going. We see Eli asking Oskar to be in her shoes at rather a critical point in their relationship, and it seems as though something more was about to happen than actually did. I found the way this idea was just left this a little confusing.
Another moment that didn't quite work for me was around the note that Eli left for Oskar. I was again feeling confused about the time line and what was intended by it. The plot line that should have fitted around it seemed slightly choppy and not fully explained.
However these are two little niggles that really didn't detract from the film, and neither did the more serious negative moments of the film, moments that some might find rather disturbing.
I'm not one of these leaping up and down people who get outraged at anything, far from it, I'm a very liberal and open person. However some people are commenting on the couple of scenes where we see the lead actor in his underpants and how that's distasteful and had them a little concerned.
While I see why they are, I don't feel these scenes are particularly bad, what I really objected to was the single close-up shot of the female leads' genitalia. Now it's quick, it may not be the young actress, or indeed a young girl, and the shot is from her standing so there is little to see, but it does seem a totally gratuitous shot that did make me feel rather uncomfortable, and that's usually a difficult thing to do.
I understand what the director was showing by the surrounding scenes, and actually they work just fine, I really don't understand why we need this further quick shot other than shock value, and this is a film that doesn't require any shocks at all. It both confused and bothered me.
There are some superbly handled moments throughout the film though, and not just as the relationship grows between the two leads, but also in the scenes that address the vampire aspect of the film.
We see a number of sequences where Eli does turn into a vampire and attack people, and again they are handled wonderfully. We never see the usual aspects of vampires, and instead most of the attacks are quick and rather understated, except for the pool scenes later in the film.
Without giving too much away this is perhaps where most of the violence occurs, but again it all happens off screen, or mostly off screen, as the director keeps us away from most of the action with an imaginative and visually engaging way.
There is one scene where we see the real vampire side of the character, and again it's kept simple and shows us just enough to unnerve the audience rather than going for complete shock and horror.
All the horror aspects of the story are kept focussed on reality and the film continually pulls towards the friendship and the characters, turning away from the usual gore and scare factor, and that adds a great deal to the film.
The ending was very satisfying and completed the film well, whether you thought that the story was the simple one of friendship and love shown on screen or the darker one told in between the lines of the story.
There also needs to be a mention of the locations and sets used in the film, both of which looked fantastic. The sets were minimalist and carried an older feel without seeming kitsch, while the locations gave a lot to the camera and the cinematography.
This is a beautifully written, directed and acted story that shows another side to the dark and often gory vampire story by grounding it in the heart of a relationship between two very real people. The fact that they are children, well one is only a child on the outside, adds an extra richness to the story and the meaning.
Whether intentional or not, the fact that there's a completely different meaning to be taken from the relationship is a testament to the story and the film. I came away just beginning to realise this and it stayed with me as the film came back to my thoughts a number of times, and that's the mark of a very good film.
Despite a couple of small issues with the story there remains one worrying aspect of the film that I still can't quite shake off, and that's the aspect of the film captured in the one hugely gratuitous nude shot, and the lesser, unsettling scenes of the boy naked.
However much these scenes are unsettling, I should make it clear that overall the film is superb and I really do recommend it.