Tuesday, 28 September 2010
FILM REVIEW: LET ME IN
Icon Film Distribution
Let me preface this review by stating from the outset that a remake of Let The Right One In, the Swedish vampire film that stole (and broke) audiences hearts in 2008, is unnecessary: there is no real need for one. But an American/English language version has been made, so I shall proceed to review it.
Moved from Sweden to a no less frozen New Mexico, in 1983 and the height of Reagan-era Cold War politics, Matt Reeves' Let Me In, an adaptation of both the 2008 film and the Swedish novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist upon which it was based, plays out not as a shot-for-shot remake but rather a very faithful re-imagining.
Those who have seen the original film (a small but passionate few comparing box office returns with blogosphere commentary) will experience (and not necessarily in a bad way) a very strong sense of deja vu. First timers will encounter an unsettling tale of friendship that will simultaneously disturb, captivate and, ultimately, break your heart. Neither audience should feel shortchanged.
Reeves adopts a darker tone (one of the few though noticeable changes) in telling the story of Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a lonely 12-year-old with an absent father and ineffectual mother (we never see her face), ignored at home and bullied at school, and Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz), the mysterious girl who moves in next door. She doesn't wear shoes or seem to feel the cold – and she smells funny. But despite this, and her insistence that she and Owen cannot be friends, a friendship ensues.
Those who have seen Let The Right One In know there is much more to that synopsis but I won't go into details; for those who haven't seen it, discovering Abby's secrets as Owen does is one of the film's (dark) pleasures. The performances of the child actors is another, and if there is any argument for Reeves not waiting a few more years to make the film then it is that Moretz (so good in Kick-Ass) and Smit-McPhee (Romulus, My Father and The Road) would have been too old for the roles.
Each brings a soulfulness to their characters, both lonely and damaged in very different ways. Good, also, is the ever-reliable Richard Jenkins who brings a certain grace to a seemingly unsympathetic role as Abby's 'father'.
If you're an ardent fan of the original film and predisposed to hating the remake purely on principle, or simply boycotting it altogether, I can understand (I'm no fan of remakes myself). But those who put aside their doubts and concerns may be pleasantly surprised by just how much care and attention Reeves has applied to Let Me In.
Those coming to the story for the first time will witness a strangley beautiful tale of friendship which is as affecting as it is dark (or because of it), and not just because of Abby's true nature. As anyone knows, growing up is hard and kids can be cruel, and Let Me In doesn't skimp on the horrors of the everyday. As with the original, I found the film's depiction of childhood bullying far more disturbing than the traditional horror elements. Not for the weak, Let Me In rewards both the brave and the openminded.