Director: Ali Abbasi
Starring: Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff .Denmark/Iran/Sweden. 1h 50m
It’s clear from the outset of Ali Abbasi’s latest project, Border, that aspects of his debut Danish horror Shelley (2016) were going to pour through. It chooses to focus on a strange character, whom one might pass everyday and not really notice, and this character and her job at border control only goes to empahses out many conflicts of globalisation.
After sniffing out a teenager over his quota on alcohol he mumbles “Ugly bitch” at Tina (Melander) a border guard at a Swedish ferry port who has an uncanny sense of smell, not only can the stocky lass smell illegal imports but her attuned nose can even sense guilt on an SD card harboring child pornography. After work Tina returns to her home in the woods, which she shares with a lazy and feckless dog trainer Roland (Jorgen Thorsson) their platonic relationship is purely for convenience and it’s evident how little he really cares for Tina but she entertains herself by exploring the natural world around her where she appears to be more comfortable, during these voyeuristic nature scenes, Tina is often happier in her naked form and Ali manages to capture a romance between a woman and the natural eden that surrounds her with a sensitive eye.
The entire human race is a disease, I’m telling you.
Tina somehow manages to stand out and shrink into the background, with her sunken eyes, bad teeth and a unusual scar on her face her dedication to right and wrong starts to unravel when she meets Vore (Milonoff) a peculiar man with a crooked smile seems to suggest that he knows a dark secret, his scent throws Tina into a heady confusion and soon their awkward meetings become a rather unusual love story. Vore is soon living in an annex and Roland is sent packing as Vore seems like a perfect match and after overcoming a few physical anomalies, even sexually compatible, leading to one of the most memorable sex scenes I’ve seen for a while and not for any good reasons, but it helped answer a few questions I had about the birds and bees.
As Tina starts to revel in her new awakening, she’s soon snapped back to earth and is soon facing all her childhood fears with the rough interjections from her elderly father.
The film starts to take on a fairytale aspect, but around a rather unsettling police investigation which Tina is helping with and soon discovers a link with Vore, while the theme gets really heavy, it’s a beautiful poem to anyone who’s dealing with being mixed race, alienated, oppressed, or dealing with life as a immigrant. But don’t worry Ali managed to smuggle in a lot of freaky goodness in this dreamy romantic thriller with no clear boundaries that breaks all the rules and is a fresh leap in the right direction for European cinema and I have my fingers crossed that hopefully there can be a sequel at some point.
R: Let the Right One In (2008), Shelley (2016)
L: Modern Fairytales