John Ajvide Lindqvist (novel) John Ajvide Lindqvist (screenplay)
RUNTIME: 115 min
So Im sure everyone has heard that everyone with the remotest access to the 21st Century technology has heard by now what a great film this is, but since I think its so very great so good, in fact, I caught it twice at the cinema that I should reiterate this one more.
And the reasons are abundant and diverse. Firstly, its different from the generic tacky-vampire-in-cheap-Victorian-attire-sculking-around-East-European-castles kind of films that are so populous these days, and indeed from the over-stylized but thoroughly insulting Hollywood fare (no, I dont care how hot Kate Beckinsale looks in rubber, those films are manifest rubbish!). This coming of age tale is set in a cold and snowed under Sweden of 1980s, a welcome and original departure point, with the story told against the backdrop of copious snow, and not a haunted castle in sight!
Without giving too much away, the plot is as such Eli, a mysterious new girl moves in next door to a shy bullied Oskar, and an unlikely warm friendship ensues. What makes this tale so delicious is that, unlike a Hollywood trite that would spoon-feed its audience; this film leaves room for a lot of ambiguity who is Hakan? Is he Elis helper and father figure, or was he her lover? Indeed, who is Eli? There is very little said about her background, and tantalisingly so. How old is she? A momentary nude shot of her even begs questions as to whether she is a girl. The payoff is, however, in the original and intricately conveyed story, and a rather, ahem, satisfying ending.
The two leads are perfectly played by the child cast, and it is evident that the story hangs together so well due to the efforts of John Ajvide Lindqvist, whose 2004 novel the film is based on and who also wrote the screenplay.
All I can add is that at this point nothing remains but to impatiently await at the door as my DVD copy arrives, and hope that I dont read the novel too fast once I get my hands on it! And I cant help but to urge everyone in the strongest possible terms to do the same, as I hear terrible rumours of an imminent US remake. Argh!