Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl.Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl.Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl.
"Let the Right One In" has a storyline which, although it reveals some secrets early on, is best left as a surprise. So this will necessarily be one of those rare reviews in which the less said about the plot the better. 12-year-olds Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) and Eli (Lina Leandersson) meet one snowy afternoon at a jungle gym in the courtyard of Oskar's housing complex outside Stockholm. Their young, tender attraction for each other is apparent right from the start and we think we know where their relationship is headed. But there is a deep dark secret to be discovered here and when it's revealed the audience is both repulsed and curiously fascinated at the same time, in a similar fashion as when yellow crime scene tape brings us closer rather than warning us away.
The supporting cast is completely beholden to the narrative as it revolves around the adorable young couple, whose performances rival the best I've ever seen for actors of that age. The innocence and vulnerability of Hedebrant's Oskar is simply a tour-de-force and he admirably carries the film on his little shoulders. Leandersson matches him scene by scene, line by line, and the result literally gave me chills.
Production values are stellar, with all technical aspects -- lighting, original music by Johan Soderqvist, and Hoyte Van Hoytema's cinematography -- combining in perfect synchronization to produce a Hitchockian tale that somehow brings love and light into what could have been the darkest drama imaginable.
"Let the Right One In" was the overwhelming choice for Best Narrative Feature after its North American Premiere here at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. It is a truly well-deserved honor. Tomas Alfredson has crafted a brilliant work of art that left me shaking my head with wonder.
- May 13, 2008