Lina Leandersson is an old soul walking around in a young body. She is the Swedish breakout star of 2008’s super-creepy LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. This vampire story is by far (and I mean, by far) the best vampire story of all of them. Twilight can’t hold a candle to LTROI. This is because the story is, in essence, a darkly-affecting romance in the order of cinematic magnitude of Casablanca – if Casablanca had vampires, of course. There is a love triangle: Two men love one very young/very old vampire. She appears helpless but isn’t. She is tortured. A sacrifice is made by her lover at the end. See the resemblance? The structure exists in both movies but the difference is that while Bogart and Bergman will always have Paris, Lina and her lover will always (and I mean always) have each other.
Of course, the romance is a tragedy. But aren’t all good love stories in their heart – ghost stories? Doesn’t love at first site require us to recognize in another what is missing in our deepest selves, and therefore so heartwrenching both when we possess it and lose it? This is what Let The Right One In is all about. We can’t control who we love and the act of letting them in can often destroy us, but we do it anyway. Confused? Well, watch this movie and you’ll either agree with me or think I’m insane. But people who do get it (especially the ending) REALLY get it and love this movie like one of their own children. And the biggest reason people who GET IT love this movie is Lina Leandersson. Simply because her performance is transformative.
This is Lina’s first film. She was hand-picked by the director and producer from over 8,000 auditions. What’s even more amazing is the on-screen chemistry that she creates within everyone she comes in contact with. It’s even more amazing when you consider that she was 12 years old when they shot the movie playing a 400-year old vampire and she pulls it off handily. So well in fact, that the American remake LET ME IN with Chloe Mertz comes off as a cheap remake of a classic and will be forgotten immediately. I was so inspired by the Swedish import (dubbed in english) that I went out and bought the translated book. Mind you, the book has moments of brilliance and the movie could not have been made without it – but the adaptation to the screen (the screenplay was by the same author) is a textbook case in how to adapt a classic story from book to screen and in the process make it better. Only THE SHINING comes close to the same successfully-adapted story.
Still not convinced? Here’s two examples of this movie’s brilliance: 1) You’ll notice in the movie that adults (except with one very big exception) are not paying any attention to the children in this movie. Adults are oblivious to what is going on right in front of their eyes and therefore, by definition, missing out on what is important in life. 2) The movie expresses the love theme on the basis that you fall in love with people who possess the ability to communicate that love – or mirror if you will – how you yourself wish to be loved. At least in the beginning. This is seduction. This is what a vampire does to prey on its victims. But when the vampire in question is in fact your true love – then boy are you one lucky/unlucky guy. And that gets to the heart of the ending of this transformative movie. We are all alone. We all need to be loved. The sacrifice we make to open ourselves up to that love risk letting the wrong one in. All love therefore is a risk. The risk of love and loss. And that’s why I LOVE the ending of this movie. Let me know if you agree with me.
Oh, and Let the Right One In is also a kick-ass scary movie. Happy Halloween!