The Swedish fantasy thriller Border is the sophomore feature from Ali Abbasi, who improved considerably regarding thrills and tone when compared with his debut Shelley. After learning that the script had the stamp of John Ajvide Lindqvist on it – he authored the acclaimed vampire tale Let The Right One In – my expectations went high and were never defrauded as I dug this noir fairytale drenched in Nordic folklore and delicious suspense.
The story’s protagonist is Tina (Eva Melander), a singular customs officer with an uncommon chromosome flaw, rigid posture, and unfriendly face. She also has the unique ability to sniff trouble in the passers-by. Her infallible sense of smell can detect things like alcohol, drugs, weapons, and even SD cards with child pornography, as well as inner feelings like shame, guilt, and rage. She does this with such accuracy that, occasionally, the authorities seek her services to solve major criminal cases. The probability of failure while performing her task is tiny. However, she is challenged for the very first time when Vore (Eero Milonoff), a mysterious man with a weird obsession with maggots, is selected for inspection. She knows he hides something impure, but their instant physical chemistry turned into a visceral, animal-like passion, made her lenient. Both have a lot in common, and not only physical. They have a robust and strange connection to nature and animals.
“Her infallible sense of smell can detect things like alcohol, drugs, weapons, and even SD cards with child pornography…”
The somber side of Vore is gradually exposed after he accepts Tina’s suggestion to move into her guest house, a situation that bothers her parasitical boyfriend, Roland (Jörgen Thorsson), a Rottweilers enthusiast. Tina’s greatest difficulty, in addition, to accept her own nature and realize that, like Vore, she is not a creature of this world, was to understand the lies that populate her ‘human’ past.
While the talented director keeps the things flowing with the appropriate amount of tension, the lead actors respond with absolute brilliance. Well anchored in its unique conception, Border can be tender and liberating, furious and disgusting, and even polemic in its vision of decaying humankind. In this case, and for its arresting visuals and compelling narrative, it’s easy to conclude that this is no minor work
Border (2018) Directed by Ali Abbasi. Written by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Ali Abbasi, and Isabella Eklöf. Starring Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff, Jörgen Thorsson.
9 out of 10 stars