Border (Gräns) – Review

Adapted from a John Ajvide Lindqvist short story, the man who also penned Let The Right One In. Ali Abbasi brings us a unique, surprising and brilliant piece of fantasy/drama that is beautifully reflective of modern society.

Tina (Eva Melander) lives a quiet life, working as a border guard at the local ferry port. Sharing an isolated home with Roland; a dog loving partner who clearly uses the house and their relationship for his own convenience.

Tina is unique, with facial features that do not match others, and a sense of smell that can detect human emotion, fear and guilt, a useful skill in the role of a border enforcement guard, and one that does not go unnoticed.

Tina has always been told that her difference is the result of a chromosomal flaw, also effecting her reproductive ability and bodily differences. On meeting a stranger who shares the same ‘chromosomal’ difference named Vore (Eero Milonoff) at her border post, Tina’s life changes forever. As their relationship deepens, secrets are uncovered, identities found and history shared.

What makes Border utterly unique is its use of age old fantasy alongside big 21st Century social themes. This is a film that is unafraid to explore issues of identity, difference, segregation and refugees. while truly embracing its fantasy roots with vision and creativity.

Tina’s journey of self discovery is fascinating and riveting, playing with broader issues of identity, gender, repression and release. All against a backdrop of nature, earthly belonging and cultural heritage.

Characters are beautifully portrayed with complexity and sensitivity. You find yourself utterly captivated by their story. Understanding the moral choices they make, set against their views of the society they inhabit.

Direction allows the actors time to truly embody their characters, never rushing the story along; allowing the audience to build understanding.

Borders fantastical and fairytale roots are delivered with vision, control and true originality, mixing the genres of fantasy, romance and crime drama. This mixture of genres feels like it shouldn’t work, but it does, beautifully, with each genre element dovetailing neatly into the overarching story.

Borders exploration of gender, and romance is also gloriously complex. Gender pronouns slowly becoming more difficult for the viewer to grasp as the relationship between Tina and Vore develops. Deconstructing the social and sexual barriers humans build and replacing them with a view of sexuality and gender as nature, in all its colour, earth and diversity.

Border is the most original piece of fantasy/drama filmmaking we have seen since 2017’s The Shape of Water. Dovetailing fantasy with big social issues, Border is utterly captivating from start to finish and truly unique.

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