Directed by Ali Abbasi
The Swedish fantasy thriller “Border” is the sophomore feature from Ali Abbasi, who improved considerably in terms of thrills and tone when compared with his debut “Shelley”. After learning that the script had the stamp of John Ajvide Lindqvist on it - he authored the acclaimed vampire tale “Let The Right One In” - my expectations went high and, in fact, were never defrauded as I dug this noir fairytale drenched in Nordic folklore and delicious suspense.
The story's protagonist is Tina (Eva Melander), a singular customs officer with an uncommon chromosome flaw, rigid posture, and unfriendly face, who has the special ability to sniff trouble in the passers-by. Her infallible sense of smell can detect things like alcohol, drugs, weapons, and even SD cards with child pornography, as well as inner feelings like shame, guilt, and rage. She does this with such accuracy that, occasionally, the authorities seek her services to solve major criminal cases. The probability of failure while performing her task is tiny, however, she is challenged for the very first time when Vore (Eero Milonoff), a mysterious man with a weird obsession with maggots, is selected for inspection. She knows he hides something impure, but their instant physical chemistry turned into visceral, animal-like passion, made her lenient. Both have a lot in common, and not only physical. They have a strong, strange connection to nature and animals.
The somber side of Vore is gradually exposed after he accepts Tina’s suggestion to move into her guest house, a situation that bothers her parasitical boyfriend, Roland (Jörgen Thorsson), a Rottweilers enthusiast. Tina’s greatest difficulty, besides accepting her own nature and realizing that, like Vore, she is not a creature of this world, was to understand the lies that populate her ‘human’ past.
While the talented director keeps the things flowing with the appropriate amount of tension, the lead actors respond with absolute brilliance. Well anchored in its unique conception, “Border” can be tender and liberating, furious and disgusting, and even polemic in its vision of decaying humankind. In this case, and for its arresting visuals and compelling narrative, it’s easy to conclude that this is no minor work.