Iranian-Danish gender bender "Border" wins Un Certain Regard best film at 71st Cannes

The award to the Un Certain Regard best film at the 71st Cannes Film Festival went to the Iranian Danish filmmaker Ali Abassi for Border, a film based on a short story by Swedish horror fiction novelist John Ajvide Lindqvist. His novel "Let the Right One" in later made into a Swedish film and then into an American remake in 2004 was an authentic social realist vampire film that looks at a meeting between a young man and a young female vampire. "Border" has the same spirit but is not as well-crafted a story as "Let the Right One In".

Benicio del Toro was the jury president of Un Certain Regard and spoke about this film being one that stuck out in the competition. The story is unusual and the way the film is made has a contemplative pace with little action but occurrences that are thought provoking.

Tina (Swedish actress Eva Melander) works as a security guard at the customs border for Sweden and Finland at the point where huge cruise ships disembark between the two countries. She has an uncanny ability to sniff out suspicious characters as a customs officer - mostly because she can smell drugs but she also has a nose for other illegal activities such as sex trafficking of children. Tina is a reserved woman with horrific looks – large buck teeth, a high forehead and thick nose bridge, thinning hair and peculiar social behavior. She lives with a long-haired hippie type in the woods with a few nearby neighbors. On one of her patrols she sniffs out the traveler Vore (Finnish actor Eero Milonoff) who has anatomical features similar to hers. They can be likened to those of Scandinavian trolls in folklore - grotesque humanoids with supernatural powers such as extra sensory perception and hypersensitivity. They are the shunned ones in society, a metaphor for the spectrum of today’s LGTBQI -lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, queer and intersex population. Soon this may be officially reduced to “Whatever” since as each letter of the acronym is added it becomes apparent we need to be tolerant of differences from what is considered an anomaly of the arbitrary “norm”. This is the basis for the film’s universal appeal to the jury at Cannes but the performance of Eva Melander as Tina is the strongest attribute of the film. When she meets Vore, the film pace changes from the important duties of a customs officer and the environment in which she lives to a woman who awakens to her special power, including sexual power sharing this joyously with a man who is her equal. Their enrapture at times seems exaggerated even in a life held back by trying to fit in. Trolls have never had a more dramatic introduction on film.

© 2018 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 05/30/18
Movie Magazine International