Adapted from a short story by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who brought us Let The Right One In, director Ali Abbasi creates one of the most unique, surprising and utterly enthralling slices of fantasy/drama I have seen since The Shape of Water. Tina (Eva Melander) lives a quiet life, her only real human contact coming through her job as a border guard at the local ferry port. Tina feels alienated from the world around her due to her unique facial features and a mind-blowing sense of smell that can detect human emotion, fear and guilt. Of course, this skill proves highly useful in a border enforcement role, and her talents do not go unnoticed by colleagues.
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Tina’s difference results from a chromosomal flaw, or at least that is what she has been told since childhood. However, on meeting a stranger who shares the same ‘chromosomal’ difference, Tina begins to question her identity and roots. But as the mysterious Vore (Eero Milonoff) slowly wakes Tina from her slumber, themes of identity, purpose and repressed anger bubble to the surface.
What makes Border unique and compelling is its ability to dovetail classic folklore and fantasy with 21st Century themes of inequality, oppression and difference. Abbasi is not afraid to explore issues of identity, difference and segregation that play to the experiences of many groups. Still, it is the intelligent interface between Tina’s role as a border guard and the experience of those seeking sanctuary and security that is truly outstanding. Here we are offered a fascinating journey of self-discovery wrapped in themes of cultural appropriation, suppressed histories and fear. The result is a film that is proud of its fantastical roots while also embracing modern socio-political themes.
Director: Ali Abbasi