Publisher's note: As redundant as a pacing lost soul, I am loathe to admit, Wyatt is probably our most read writer. Many months ago, March 12, 2012, I was perusing our sister publication, Better Angels Now, and I noticed that so many of Wyatt's reviews, of the many fine films that occupy the public's interest, have not been availed to our readers through our Beaufort County Now publication.
Consequently, over the next many weeks, possibly months, we will endeavor to remedy this mild injustice by publishing these reviews, in our current improved format, for your edification. Here below is our twentieth in a series of these older articles of interest by our good friend, Wyatt Sanderman Day.
"Coming of Age" Vampire Film is Worth the Risk ...
Of temporary losing your peace of mind. Or possibly, you may question your sanity as to why you just spent 115 minutes of your precious time to wade through some fairly disturbing images, just to catch up on what passes for a seemingly pre-adolescent monster posing as an innocent, precociously wise and complex character study of a "girl gone wild."
The child, or vampire in our discussion here, is the quite impressive Lina Leandersson, who portrays Eli, a diminutive vampire who has been 12 years old for a very long time. The other characters, in this low budget Swedish film directed by Tomas Alfredson, are either a backdrop to the story or food for Eli, excepting Oskar, her new acquaintance and budding platonic companion.
Totally irrespective of the cinematic fact, that the subject of any story is often in most of the scenes, and Miss Leandersson as Eli is certainly not, one can still sense her presence. You can sense her immutable hunger: this monstrous, malnourished child with the big, innocent eyes; watching always, with her instinctive urge to feed. Paradoxically, Miss Leandersson is such a fine little actress that she ironically transcends our perception that she could have the capacity to perform such monstrous acts as she draws us in to what may be a first in the vampire genre: an innocent looking child revealing a voracious parasite in the female form that is admittedly asexual, and irrevocably horrible.
Secondary to the central theme of the preadolescent vampire is that the aforementioned Oskar, the 12-year-old boy that befriends Eli and loves her unconditionally, is literally terrorized by a gang of bullies at his school. Although Eli must murder to feed, she learns to treasure her friendship with Oskar, portrayed by Kare Hedebrandt, and to that end, she becomes fiercely loyal. This is the hook: Eli's loyalty above all of her base needs, Oskar's unconditional love, and what we have here is a love story... kind of.
As it is in all love stories, it eventually gets complicated. It's not as if Oskar can take her home to meet the parents. And, irrespective of the obvious differences, it's also not as if vampires have a plethora of options. Regardless of their dissimilarities, the love story appears to be the crux of John Ajvide Lindqvist's adaptation of his best selling novel. It may be an unrequited love of convenience, but as a couple, they are an essential support group in a world of bullies and the death rays of sunlight.
Remarkably, the story made an undeniable impression on me to the point of complete distraction. Although the film, set in the austere 1980's of "Iron Curtain" Sweden, seemed unremarkable in its cinematography, some of the images and fragments of the story invaded my next day consciousness to the point that I actually ratcheted upward my rating of the film to an even stronger recommendation at 3 1/2 stars.