Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Let the Right One In"

One of the biggest dangers for film critics (especially “real” ones who get paid to watch nearly every film released in a year) is the fact that novelty and distinctness stands out and is rewarded. Sometimes the critic forgets to ask, “Is this film great?” and falls into the trap of rewarding a film simply because it stands out as being unique. Uniqueness is good, but only one among many factors by which a film should be measured.

Others would be things like technical quality, intrinsic beauty, and the qualities of the story—its truth, its message and its structure.

“Let the Right One In” was on a lot of critics’ best of year lists, it even held the number one spot on many. It has a lot of qualities to recommend it being there. It is a singular take on the vampire story. It is technically proficient, especially considering the very difficult task of making a period piece for a time still vivid in most peoples’ memories. It is visually engaging and even beautiful in parts.

The story itself, however, is a bit lacking. It is somewhat open to interpretation, but the most straight forward take would be as follows: A bullied boy with a taste for violence meets a young-looking vampire who is about to have to change out the person who helps it survive. The vampire befriends the young serial killer in making and takes him on as its new assistant.

All of that is a bit disturbing, but disturbing can still be thought provoking. The ideas here explored—bullying and violence among children, love and friendship, and the dangers within a society being greater than the perceived “other” (in this case the Soviet Block)—are all compelling. All of that does not ease the sheer “depression inducing” factor enough to help this film become an instant classic, or even enter the top ten list for the year.

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