For fans of certain foreign films there are no more dreaded words than “American remake”. In recent years, Hollywood has chewed up and spat out English language versions of a half dozen or so superb European and Asian genre films, virtually destroying them in an attempt to reach into the wallets of subtitle phopic American audiences. Recent Americanized versions of A Tale Of Two Sisters, Ringu, Shutter and [REC] are, to varying degrees, vastly inferior to the originals. So, when it was announced that beloved Swedish film Let The Right One In was getting the Hollywood treatment, a collective groan emitted from the film’s legions of fans. I regard Tomas Alfredson’s dark and romantic vampire tale a modern classic. Based on a novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Alfredson created a movie that critics and audiences adored. The thought that anyone would attempt an American version bordered on sacrilege. Unlike many films that Hollywood recycles, Let The Right One In is not a film that succeeded because of a gimmick. It’s a film that is finely nuanced and artful - two words that are to Hollywood what garlic is to vampires. The fact that Matt Reeves, who helmed the unbearable Cloverfield, was going to direct LTROI, was not reassuring. I expected the worst. It was with a sense of dread that I entered Austin’s Paramount Theater this past weekend to see Fantastic Fest’s screening of Let Me In. Imagine how pleasantly shocked I was that Reeves remake not only honors the original but may have actually surpassed it as a work of art.
Let Me In features remarkable performances by the two young lead actors, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz (looking like a very young Nastassja Kinski ). Both actors bring a tenderness and subtlety to their roles that give the movie it’s heart and soul. Director Reeves has a deliberate, patient and delicate approach to his characters that is almost non-existent in mainstream American filmmaking. In this regard he recreates with astonishing clarity the tone of the original film. Where he improves upon the original is in his handling of the gender twisting aspect of the story. He’s deepened it, infused it with a bit more eroticism and hints of romantic connections that the original film kept buried. Overall, this a more gratifying emotional experience.
There are scenes in Let Me In that did not occur in Let The Right One In and scenes that have been omitted. There’s a central character in the new film that wasn’t in the original. And there’s an action sequence unique to the new film that will be the subject of discussion in film classes for years to come. It brought to my mind a similar set piece in Alfonso Cuarón’s Children Of Men.
Let Me In also pays homage to Hitchcock in ways that Let The Right One In did not. Echoes of Rear Window and Psycho resonate throughout the film
It’s late. I’m tired. I want to discuss the religious and socio-political aspects of the film. Why does Reeves so strongly emphasize that the film occurs in the Reagan 80’s thrusting the fact repeatedly, thru 80’s pop hits and television images of Reagan, into the foreground? Were the 80’s the culmination of the final estrangement of kids from their parents, the annihilation of the nuclear family? Why did Reeves choose to locate the story in Los Alamos, New Mexico the home of the atomic bomb? Further nuclear annihilation? Are vampires, like Elvis, everywhere because we are a society of the living dead? It’s late, I’m tired.
I’m rather certain that Let Me In is going to be a box office hit. If it is, it may encourage other American filmmakers working within the system to do what Matt Reeves has done: make a film, whatever
it’s its source, that elevates the form, that doesn’t pander to the lowest common denominator, and shows a little faith in the American public’s ability to embrace well-crafted storytelling, with or without subtitles.
The following video was shot on Thursday, Sept. 23, the opening night of Fantastic Fest, before and after the screening of Let Me In. Following a short prologue, director Matt Reeves, the film’s music composer Michael Giacchino and actors Kodi Smit-McPhee and Elias Koteas discuss the film.
Official trailer for Let Me In after the jump…
Posted by Marc Campbell |
Leave a comment