Ali Abbasi (director)
08 March 2019 (released)
09 March 2019
Tina (Eva Melnder) has an uncanny ability to smell something rotten and that’s not just materials but character too. This talent has got her a job with Swedish customs where she and a colleague survey passenger as they get off the ferry into the country.
A rather smooth gentleman is stopped and cleared but Tina senses something in the mobile. The passenger tries to swallow the sim but is stopped and it reveals images of child abuse. This leads on to further investigation with the police keen to tap into Tina’s ability.
Away from work Tina lives in a decrepit rural house with the useless Roland (Jörgen Thorsson) whose only talent appears to be looking after dogs – that hate Tina. There’s also her father who is in a home and she visit regularly and appears to have dementia. It’s an unfulfilling life only lightened when Tina takes her boots off and walks barefoot in the forest where she has an affinity with nature.
One day a man comes through customs and although she suspects foul play is wrong and leads her colleagues to make an embarrassing discovery. Confused, Tina strives to learn more about Vore (Eero Milonoff) and invites him back to her place. In return Vore tells her about their true nature which, while difficult at first, she comes to embrace and enjoy the liberation of that knowledge. This revelation sets off a chain of events that pull on base emotions and some very questionable actions.
It is by turns beautiful and nauseating as Border juggles with a number of taboos and stigmas as people’s true personalities and motives start to come to come to the fore. Melander is astonishing as Tina generating a deep empathy for her character. It’s a trickier task for Milonoff as Vore is never likeable but menacing so the challenge is to step away from going over the top which he does admirably.
Written by Ali Abbasi, Isabella Eklöf and John Ajvide Lindquist (who wrote the source book Gräns) and directed by Abbasi, Border is very strange. However, it is also beautifully filmed with a fantastic sound design, complemented by the soundtrack by Christoffer Berg and Martin Dirkov. It all adds up to a film that is compulsive as it tackles some big issues and puts on its head behaviours and actions that we may not expect. It challenges the perceptions of the conventions of gender using Nordic folklore, which is unconventional to say the least.