Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Let Me In"

The remake of “Let the Right One In” is unusual. Often an American remake of a foreign film is either unnecessary because the only “improvement” it brings to the equation is that American audiences do not have to read subtitles; or a shame because they change things that make the picture worse. In this case the differences are subtle, but a slight improvement in some areas. In the end, however, it probably ranks in the unnecessary category.

Among the changes that are improvements:
our main character seems like a normal boy, the original seemed to have a screw loose or at least a bit handicapped. The bullies here are more of a threat and are better portrayed. The subplot of the woman who was turned is abbreviated and yet more moving. The “helper’s” background is clarified yet subtly so. Finally, they avoid altogether addressing the vampire’s strange background—something the original touched on only enough to confuse.

The change that worsens the effort: the final showdown with the bullies is not as effective.

The filmmakers claim to not be remaking the movie, but rather to be retelling the story of the novel. I have not read the novel, so I do not know to what degree the subtle changes come from it, but they are really so subtle it is hard to argue that they simply didn’t remake the film directly.

There is one more important difference that may be in the book. Of course I can’t say for sure. The mother in the American version is very intentionally shown to be an inactive character. We never once see her face and she is usually in the background of shots out of focus or asleep on the couch. The one thing we do know about her is that she is very religious. With the film’s calculated context being in the “good vs. evil” time of the cold war in the early eighties, there is a not at all subtle commentary on the role that faith plays (or does not even affect) the struggle against evil in the world, according to the storytellers. Since this is a story where one form of evil overcomes other evils in society in the end, it all adds up to a very dismal view of the world.

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