Review: Border

Upon walking out of my local cinema, I heard two people discussing the film that I had just watched. “What did you think of that?” said the female in an unsure voice. “I think it was a bit over-baked.” replied the male with equal lack of conviction. “I thought it was under-baked” replied the woman. They chuckled unsure of what to make of this truly strange movie. While not one for such metaphors, I understood their sentiment. When you walk out of a film like Border, you struggle to get your thoughts in order as you have been transported to a far off place. This film is one of the strangest I have seen and will see for a long time.

To understand the tone of this film think about what Guillermo Del Toro does to fairytales in making them more mature. Now think someone does a Del Toro to one of his films and makes in even more so. This is served up in the cinema and is our film for this week.

As always, I will limit the spoilers that you can see. However, I will include some spoilers in a section that you have to click to reveal, so don’t worry. Note: The less you know about this film going into it the better, so read ahead with caution.

Age Rating15
GenreFantasy
LanguageSwedish
Year Of Release2018

Komplott (Plot)

At the start of the film we meet Swedish customs officer Tina (Eva Melander). The first thing you will notice about her is that she doesn’t look like your typical Swedish person. This is intentional and not me being a judgemental individual (Border was nominated for the best hair and make up Oscar). The second thing you notice is that she has a knack for being able to tell when somebody is smuggling when they shouldn’t be. She seems to do this through her sense of smell. Upon going home, you think she is even weirder as housemate Roland’s dogs are aggravated by her being around, yet she is very close to the local moose (Meese/Mooses/Moosli?), foxes and other creatures in the woodland that she lives in. Her interactions with other people feel limited and Melander does a great job of portraying Tina as isolated. Her relationship with Roland feels particularly distant, despite them being close in their relationship.

While on the job, Tina encounters Vore (Eero Milinoff), a man who looks strikingly similar to her. Despite sensing him, she can’t see any wrong doing. This is the way we feel about Vore throughout. He is a strange man who is definitely hiding things, but we hope these things can liberate Tina. He seems aggressive at times, yet gentle at others. We wonder whether the aggressiveness is our misunderstanding. Does he just to struggle to show his emotions?

When he comes back again, he volunteers to be searched, is strip searched and is revealed to have female genitalia. More interestingly to Tina, Vore has a scar on his lower back, identical to hers. Tina goes to meet Vore where he is staying and invites him to live in her guest house, much to the displeasure of Roland. Vore empaphises with Tina’s stories and tells his own stories, helping Tina find her truth.

At the same time, Tina has discovered a man with a USB stick of child pornography going through customs. She uses her special powers to help investigate who is distributing these images. In this way, it becomes a sort of detective/hero story, yet veers away from that enough so that it remains very much a fantasy. Tina is willing to investigate this crime, yet she isn’t as single-minded as your typical Sherlock Holmes.

The less you know about this film going into it, the better it is, therefore I will only reveal more of the plot in the spoiler tab.

De ser mig trolla

Tina’s world is very pure. It’s natural and friendly and is well juxtaposed to the rest of the world where she is constantly in contact with criminal smugglers. She is a lead character who you need to win. When she is happy, you feel hapiness with her. She is the one pure character in this story. All she wants is to be normal and have a child (Which is impossible for her due to a chromosone deformity).

The concept of her power is used to interesting effect. The film has her very much leading you. She finds out the major plot points before you do. This helps make her feel impressive, even if it leads to a bit of information disconnect between the audience and the film. This is in contrast to how you feel about her identity as you can start to work it out before she can. It’s an odd relationship as you wonder how much she knows about what is happening around her and question how much she is in denial about herself.

BORDER.jpg

The plot is also unpredictable. There are plenty of twists and turns that you don’t see coming. Again, I don’t really want to say if you haven’t seen the film. There are moments that shock you and make you feel strongly about what is going on. In terms of pacing, there is a slight lag in the middle as Tina and Vore get to know each other without over-emotional complexity, but on the whole this isn’t a big issue.

Image result for border film

Border pits two main themes against one another. The battle sees identity go against morality. While Tina is not like most others, she acts like a good person should, regardless of how people treat her. Yet, her identity is unresolved and important to her. While this is at first intriguing it can start to wear and by the end it’s obvious what she is going to do.

Click Here For Major Plot Spoilers and Discussion
The moment I truly realised that I had invested in this film was when Tina had found out she was a troll. She and Vore were running naked through the forest to the lake and most of the time I would’ve said “What the f*ck?”. Yet there was something magically liberating within this scene. She had realised she could have children as she had a secret penis all along (Again “What the fu*k?”). She had realised she wasn’t an ugly abomination. Tina was free and had found someone who knew her for what she was. Again, this was totally strange, yet you felt rare happiness for what was an isolated sole…

Yet from here, it had to go down hill. Vore talked a lot about bringing down humanity and his upbringing in which he was abused. This was inevitably going to lead to an impasse, but the shocking thing was the magnitude of the impasse. Vore murders the man behind the pornographic videos. You hope this was an act of revenge but the real story is much worse. Vore gives birth to unfertilised troll embryos which would inevitably die and replaced babies with them, before selling on the babies to paedophiles.

This part of the story felt over the top and slightly took away from the last part of the film. This made the choice between identity and morality so much easier for Tina. Vore was obviously a sick individual and there was no way our lead was going anywhere with him to find the community of trolls.

Despite this film being so grim, I was glad to have one more chance to smile. Tina is sent a mysterious package a few months later and its a troll baby (Presumably hers and Vore’s). While there is a bitter feeling that Vore got away with despicable crimes, you feel a sense of pure hapiness that Tina has a child.

She has the dream she could never have. She is no longer alone. She can choose to be herself.

Sammanfattningsvis (In Summary)

Border is a film unlike any other. With two strong lead characters, you get an intense magical film that looks at Tina’s identity. You have to have imagination and let the film take you away, otherwise it will be 2 hours of “What the *uck?” If you liked “The Shape Of Water”, you’ll might like this.

However, this film does become very grim (It’s all hidden behind the spoiler tab) and is absolutely not for the faint-hearted.

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One thought on “Review: Border

  1. Excellent and erudite review, Joe, and I hope other watchers had the chance to experience the film without the key spoiler. I like your ‘someone does a Del Toro to one of his films and makes in even more so’ – very true. This film will stay with me forever.

    Liked by 1 person

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