Sunday, February 17, 2019

Movie with Abe: Border


Border
Directed by Ali Abbasi
Released October 26, 2018

Looking different can be one of the most significant factors in someone feeling out of place. The discrepancy between what someone sees in the mirror and what they see when they look around them will often pale in comparison to the way that others react upon first meeting them, which may be involuntary but still tends to acknowledge a classification of them as something apart. While it’s usually said that true beauty comes from within, that’s rarely how society anywhere practically functions, and therefore it can be particularly enlightening and eye-opening to meet another person with the same abnormal appearance.

Tina (Eva Melander) works as a border agent in Sweden, able to detect and stop undesirable elements from encountering the country thanks to her heightened sense of smell, which she says enables her to smell fear, guilt, and shame. Her physical facial deformity has led to a lonely life, and she has opened her home to a dog trainer named Roland (J├Ârgen Thorsson), who frequently takes advantage of her hospitality without taking her feelings into consideration. When she stops a man, Vore (Eero Milonoff), at the border whose face looks just like hers, Tina begins to learn about his life experiences and realize that she may have been looking at everything in a twisted, limited manner.

This film smartly begins by showing Tina at work, looked at questionably by those she surveys as they walk past her but respected by the agents that she instructs to search whatever person she flags. Her abilities are not in question because she gets results, and she knows that this is the right job for her because she’s able to do what no one else can. Vore’s arrival interrupts all that, since he truly sees her in a way that no one else ever has, and isn’t happy with the way that she lets other people treat her, forcing her to question how she has lived her entire life.

Sweden’s Oscar entry for Best Foreign Film didn’t end up making the cut in that race, but it did merit an Oscar nomination for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Both Tina and Vore are made up to look distinctly different from those around them, though the performances by Melander and Milonoff also deserve commendation for the way they make their characters interact with the world around them and with each other. More than anything, this is a peculiar film that embraces the notion of the “other,” heading off on its own path much like its two protagonists. It’s intriguing but ultimately more weird than fulfilling, still a worthwhile watch for those who find its premise interesting.

B

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