Border (Gräns)


Swimming in really cold water can be a scream.

(2018) Romance (NEON) Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff, Jorgen Thorsson, Ann Petrén, Sten Ljunggren, Kjell Wilhelmsen, Rakel Wärmländer, Andreas Kundler, Matt Boustedt, Tomas Åhnstrand, Josefin Neldén, Henrik Johansson, Ibrahim Faal, Åsa Janson, Donald Högberg, Krister Kern, Viktor Åkerblom, Robert Enckell, Elisabeth Göransson.  Directed by Ali Abbasi

 

Sometimes films come along that are so different as to be like a precious gem. You don’t really want to spoil the experience of the moviegoer by telling them too much about the plot or the movie itself – you want them to get the opportunity to see it without any preconceptions, without any prejudice. You want the power of the film to wash over them, or kick them in the gut where applicable. Border is such a film.

Tina (Melander) works at a border crossing as a guard looking for smugglers. She is successful at her job because she has the uncanny ability to smell emotions on people – things like fear, guilt and rage. When she smells that on someone, she hauls them in to have their luggage and their persons examined. Her ability has helped break up a child pornography ring and foil minors trying to smuggle booze into Sweden. Then she meets Vore (Milonoff), a traveler who for some reason foils her olfactory radar.

Vore also bears an uncanny physical resemblance to Tina; both have pronounced ridges above the brow; both have teeth that would make Shane MacGowan flinch and both have mysterious scars on their backs. Both have also been struck by lightning and have a severe fear of thunderstorms which always seem to grow more violent around them. Tina is fast falling for the cavalier Vore despite the fact she lives with Roland (Thorsson) who breeds Rottweilers who for some reason have a strong dislike for Tina.

The movie is mainly from Tina’s point of view; she also has an ailing father (Ljunggren) whose memory is beginning to go who also plays a major role in discovering who Tina really is. Unlike a lot of indie dramas, Tina actually finds out who she really is. This discovery is at the heart of Border which is based on a novella by the same Swede who wrote Let the Right One In.

Both Melander and Milonoff shine in thankless roles. Both have to deal with a good deal of make-up prosthetics and act not so much around the applications but through them. Both are aware of their unconventional looks and use that to define their characters: in Vore’s case, it is a defiance that is at the center of who he is while for Tina it is shame.

The music and cinematography are both very lovely, from the winter wonderland of Sweden framed by beautiful ambient music that is soothing and not unlike the music of Sigur Ros at times. It makes for a dream-like atmosphere although there is nothing dream-like about where Tina works which is industrial and nondescript. This is like a fairy tale set in the real world and that’s really as descriptive as I can get without revealing a bunch of things that would lessen the experience for you. The best advice I can give is to go see this and decide for yourself, particularly if you like the works of off-kilter filmmakers like David Lynch or Yorgos Lanthimos. Abbasi could well end up being compared to those worthies…or they to him.

REASONS TO GO: The soundtrack is a beautiful ambient one. Melander and Milonoff deliver strong performances in thankless roles. It’s a very different movie in a very good way.
REASONS TO STAY: The ending runs on a little too long.
FAMILY VALUES: There is some profanity, sex and graphic nudity as well as some disturbing images and content.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT:  This is Sweden’s official submission for Best Foreign Film at the 2019 Oscars.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 12/4/18: Rotten Tomatoes: 86% positive reviews. Metacritic: 75/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Perfume
FINAL RATING: 7.5/10
NEXT:
The Mercy

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New Releases for the Week of November 30, 2018


THE POSSESSION OF HANNAH GRACE

(Screen Gems) Shay Mitchell, Grey Damon, Kirby Johnson, Nick Thune, Louis Herthum, Stana Katic, Max McNamara, Jacob Ming-Trent. Directed by Diederik Van Rooijen

A young woman dies during the course of an exorcism. Months later, a morgue attendant working the graveyard shift takes delivery of a disfigured corpse. She begins having horrifying visions and begins to suspect that the corpse may be possessed by a demonic force. Formerly known as Cadaver, the movie has been bouncing around the release schedule for more than a year.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating: R (for gruesome images and terror throughout)

Border

(NEON) Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff, Jorgen Thorsson, Ann Petrén. A customs office has the uncanny knack of being able to sniff out the guilt of smugglers – literally. One day a mysterious man walks past her and for the first time in her life, confounds her senses. This leads her down the rabbit hole of secrets and incredible revelations, into strong feelings and choices of whether to live a life or an uncomfortable truth.

See the trailer and a clip here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Enzian Theater

Rating: R (for some sexual content, graphic nudity, a bloody violent image, and language)

Elliot: The Littlest Reindeer

(Screen Media) Starring the voices of Josh Hutcherson, Morena Baccarin, John Cleese, Martin Short. When one of Santa’s reindeer retires unexpectedly, a frantic search for a replacement gets underway. Elliot, a horse with big dreams, heads to the North Pole to try his luck. In the interim his farm gets a new owner with nefarious plans of his own. Elliot must choose between achieving his dream and saving Christmas in doing so, or saving the lives of his friends.

See the trailer and video featurettes here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Animated Feature
Now Playing: Epic Theaters at Lee Vista (Saturday only)

Rating: PG (for some suggestive and rude humor)

Maria by Callas

(Sony Classics) Maria Callas, Omar Sharif, Aristotle Onasis, Catherine Deneuve. The life of the iconic opera star is told in her own words.

See the trailer and a clip here
For more on the movie this is the website

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Documentary
Now Playing: Regal Winter Park Village

Rating: PG (for mild thematic elements, some smoking and brief language)

ALSO OPENING IN ORLANDO/DAYTONA:

2.0
12 Round Gun
The Clovehitch Killer
Mirai
Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us
Searching for Ingmar Bergman

ALSO OPENING IN MIAMI/FT. LAUDERDALE:

2.0
A Cool Fish
Becoming Astrid
Dead in a Week (or Your Money Back)
The Great Buster
Mirai
On Her Shoulders
Oru Kuprasidha Payyan
Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us
Return of the Hero

ALSO OPENING IN TAMPA/ST. PETERSBURG:

2.0
Blood Brother
Dark Was the Night
Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us

ALSO OPENING IN JACKSONVILLE/ST. AUGUSTINE:

The Great Buster

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

Border
Elliot: The Littlest Reindeer
The Possession of Hannah Grace

Pick of the Litter – October 2018


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Venom

(Columbia) Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson, Jenny Slate. A photojournalist is infected with a malevolent alien symbiote whose moral compass doesn’t exactly point in the same direction as the host. However, the two will not only have to co-exist but the human half must allow the symbiote to take over so as to utilize the incredible powers it gives him if he is to stay alive.  October 5

INDEPENDENT PICKS

The Happy Prince

(Sony Classics) Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson. Everett (who also co-wrote and directed this film) stars as Oscar Wilde, one of the greatest English writers of all time and at one time, the toast of London. Known for his biting wit, Wilde ran afoul of the law due to his sexual predilections which in Victorian England were forbidden. This story is about the last days of his life as he views his failures and his troubles with humor and ironic detachment.  October 5

22 July

(Netflix) Thorbjørn Harr, Anders Danielsen Lie, Jon Ølgarden, Jonas Strand Gravli. Oscar-nominated director Paul Greengrass returns with another true story-based film for the streaming giant. The narrative feature documents the terrorist attacks in Norway on July 22, 2011 when a deranged right wing terrorist detonated a bomb in the central government district in Oslo and followed up two hours later by attacking a summer camp run by the ruling party with rifles and handguns. All in all, 69 people (mainly teens and young people) were killed at the camp and an additional eight in the bombing. It was Norway’s deadliest day since World War II.. October 10

Beautiful Boy

(Amazon) Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan. Based on the memoirs of David and Nic Sheff, a loving father and son try to cope with addiction over the course of many years. Carell gives a performance that some are already touting for Oscar recognition. October 12

I Still See You

(Lionsgate) Bella Thorne, Dermot Mulroney, Amy Price-Francis, Richard Harmon. A massive event has caused the deaths of a vast percentage of the population; the dead however continue to be seen as ghosts who while visible cannot communicate or interact with the living. One young woman, struggling to study the phenomenon, becomes the target of a malevolent entity which may be able to reach out and touch the living and not in a good way. Chalk this one up to “an interesting premise.”. October 12

Liyana

(Abramorama) Gcina Mhlophe, Shofela Coker. A teacher in Swaziland assigns five children to write a story about a young girl their age on a quest that reflects their culture. Their story is captured in dazzling animation while the children’s lives are caught in live action documentary. This is a magical union between reality and imagination. October 12

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

(Fox Searchlight) Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells, Ben Falcone. Lee Israel is an author without an audience. Once a bestselling biographer of celebrities along the lines of Katherine Hepburn and Estee Lauder in the 70s and 80s, she has fallen out of step with public tastes. Desperate for income, she resorts to deception abetted by her loyal friend Jack. File this under “You Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up.” October 19

Mid90s

(A24) Sonny Suljic, Lucas Hedges, Katherine Waterston, Na-Kel Smith. A 13-year old in L.A. during the 90s has to deal with a group of skater friends and a troubled home life. Directed by Jonah Hill, the movie has been getting quite a lot of buzz even before its debut at last month’s Toronto International Film Festival. October 19

 What We Had

(Bleecker Street) Hilary Swank, Michael Shannon, Robert Forster, Blythe Danner. With four leads as good as any you’ll see in a single film this year, this Oscar contender stars Swank as a woman who gets an urgent phone all from her brother in the middle of the night. Her mother who has a degenerative Alzheimer’s-like disease is becoming too difficult to manage at home but her father stubbornly refuses to let go of the life they have together.. October 19

Border

(Neon) Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff, Viktor Åkerblom, Rakel Warmlander. A Swedish customs officer becomes fascinated with the subject she is investigating but the more she finds out about him, the more she realizes that the two of them are linked in a way she couldn’t prepare herself for. The winner of Un Certain Regard at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, it is also Sweden’s official submission for the 2019 Foreign Film Oscar. October 26

The Dark

(Dark Sky) Nadia Alexander, Toby Nichols, Karl Marcovics, Margerete Tiesel. Look, it’s Halloween, right? You gotta have a horror film on this list and this film might just be the best  of the bunch. In a stretch of cursed woods, an undead teen girl meets a blind living boy. Both have been the victims of terrifying abuse. They find solace in each other but even in cursed woods the world won’t let them alone. There is some light at the end of the tunnel, but it might take a body count to get there. October 26