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Review - Border

By midlandsmovies, Mar 16 2019 04:41PM



Border (2019) Dir. Ali Abbasi


Iranian-Swedish director Ali Abbasi directs this new dark drama based on the short story of the same name by Ajvide Lindqvist. The film was nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling at the 91st Academy Awards and stars Eva Melander as Tina who has a Neanderthal appearance and works in customs where she has the ability to smell guilt.


Melander gives an amazingly sensitive performance of a lady with severe facial disfigurement who lives in a secluded house with her partner Roland.


As she catches people with contraband at the border, one man is caught with child pornography which leads to a police investigation where Tina’s abilities may be able to assist. Alongside this, a man with a similar facial disfigurement (Eero Milonoff as Vore) comes through customs and Tina is intrigued into his past and strange demeanour.


The film builds slowly, allowing us to invest our time with Tina and her sorry life. Shot in a very realistic manner which makes Tina’s strange abilities seem entirely believable, Border sets up a series of mysteries – Tina’s skills, the awful detected crime, Vore’s backstory – which maintains the film’s forward momentum throughout.


As Vore is caught incubating, and then eating, maggots the mixture of nature and fairy tale imagery adds huge doses of surrealism to the documentary-like cinematography. Vore and Tina frolic naked in a lake and in the woods, and as their relationship develops Tina's reserved character is slowly revealed. And much more besides.


There are many, many revelations in the film which I really don’t want to spoil here however. The less you know the more you will get from this film as it twists and turns and even jumps genres to amazing effect. A shocking liaison in the the forest alongside some haunting imagery linking the various narrative threads were some of the most striking sequences I’ve seen in cinema in a long time.


Abassi uses themes of family and genetics to tackle the problems of being an outsider as he injects realism and history into his tall tale. And whilst Tina’s deformity sets her apart from those around her, the film explores not just her place in our society, but in other societies too, which creates a clash of identities.


A cracking drama with added fantasy elements, Border is both compassionate and shocking and comes hugely recommended as it combines amazing performances that go beyond the prosthetics with a host of disturbing images you simply won't forget.


★★★★½


Michael Sales


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