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Feb 27, 2009

Fletch's Film Review: Coraline and Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)

Part XII in my continuing quest to combine reviews for two films that seemingly have nothing in common, but are in fact about the same thing. For more reviews like this, click here or here.

Ok, so that's not really the case (and that's why there are no links above) - it's just a happy coincidence that brings these two films together in one post. Besides, I'm not sure what parallels I could make about a stop-motion 3-D animated movie about children learning to respect and obey their parents and a Swedish coming-of-age film that just so happens to be about a vampire (while not being about a vampire at all, really). I guess if I tried really hard, I could draw a line from the camaraderie between Coraline and her friend/not-a-friend Wybie and the mutually beneficial relationship between Right One's Oskar and Eli - but no, I'm not even gonna try.

Of course, they do share more in common. Both are book adaptations. Both star tween-aged protagonists, each in search of a friend in a lonely, potentially cruel world. And both are expertly-made films - one a painstaking technical marvel that emits the joy and devotion of its creators from beyond its inanimate surface, and the other a dual character study and love story wearing the skin of something much more dangerous.

The similarities pretty much end there, though. Coraline, while especially dark and written above the level of a typical kids' movie at times, remains a cautionary tale for all the children out there who are or were tempted to run away from home after being told to eat their peas and carrots one too many times. Single-child Coraline escapes to a fantasy world that turns into a nightmare world relatively quickly, but the danger was in her head the whole time (or was it?), merely there to teach her a fast (but important) lesson about appreciating her surroundings a bit more. That said, director/co-writer Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) has crafted a fun, timeless tale with some literally colorful characters (Ian McShane's Mr. Bobinsky, for one) that ought to be enjoyed by multiple generations.

Let the Right One In, meanwhile, won't likely merely be enjoyed by scores of people but rather hailed as a modern masterpiece. It'd be best to go into the movie cold, but the quick skinny is this: Oskar is a lonely, picked-on 12-year old. He's had it, and it's not hard to see him becoming a Columbine-like tragedy within a few years should his situation remain unchanged. But then Eli moves into his apartment building. Staying with her guardian/helper, Eli just happens to be a vampire (who appears to be the same age, but is in fact much older). The two forge a friendship that's both unlikely and perfectly likely simultaneously, mutually benefitting each other and affecting the future for both indefinitely.

Set in Sweden, viewers that live outside of the Great Lakes area are bound to be struck by the all-encompassing snowiness of it all and what a large role that the setting plays in the film, especially when contrasted with the relationship between Oskar and Eli, which is anything but frozen. Though the cast of characters isn't fleshed out very well beyond the two leads and Eli's helper Håkan, the depth we're given on the duo more than suffices, and that detail is given even more importance when you remember that this is "just a vampire movie."

Full of memorable scenes (including what might be the best ending of any 2008 film) and terrific acting by its young leads, Let the Right One In is the best film that nobody saw last year, and I'm just sad that it took me so long to do so.

Fletch's Film Rating:


"Darn tootin!"

Let the Right One In

"You're the best...around!"

14 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Coraline and Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)"

Nayana Anthony said...

I like the whole idea of this feature. It reminds me of the first time I saw three movies at the theater in one day (Sideways, Million Dollar Baby, and The Aviator, in that order), and I realized when I got home that in each of those movies someone had a broken nose. Coincidences are fun, huh?

Nick said...

Damnit, Fletch! Stop plagiarizing my 2 In 1 reviews!

Nick said...

Oh, I also meant to add that I've seen about half of Let the Right One In (I'll refrain from sharing 'how')... quite a while back. But the only reason I didn't see the second half is because the format in which I watched it hated me and wouldn't let me. But the DVD comes out the beginning of next month and I already have it on my queue on Netflix.

(But again, stop plagiarizing my 2 In 1 reviews!). :P

Fletch said...

Nayana - hooray for co-inky-dinks!

(Note: I do this more out of the lazy desire to not write two (or three or four) separate reviews than anything else, but I take it seriously and really try to find common ground once I get started.)

Nick - Hmmm...Blog Cabins' first 'multiple' review occured on 5/3/07 (yes, you got me curious, so I looked). R2D2? Not even in existence at that time.

Just restoring the Fletch is right/Nick is wrong format we're used to here. ;) :P (Note: if you don't know what I'm talking about, see the comments for the previous Survivor recap.)

So there!

Now I just have to guess the format you were watching it in previously. I'm gonna guess that someone was acting it out, charades-style for you, but you managed to piss them off halfway through, so they stopped.

Glad you'll be catching all of it soon enough. It's my favorite Swedish vampire movie ever! It's also the only Swedish film I've ever seen (iirc).

Mikey Filmmaker said...

Let the Right One In was probably the best movie no one saw. Part of the reason is that it barely played in any theatres. My friend sang praises for the film and I eventually saw it on his insistence. They are actually making a remake in English. That is probably not a good idea since the Hollywood development process will ruin it.

Nick said...

touche, Fletch... touche.

However, I do my 2 In 1's much more often than you do your 'multiples'! So there!

As for the charades... how did you know?! ;)

Kyle said...

Fantastic reviews! I had heard Let the Right One In was good, but that review might be enough to get me to drop some much-needed-recession-era funds on a ticket.

Anil Usumezbas said...

Dear Blogger,

I posted a comment at your blog regarding how I loved the fact that you made a non-bogus connection between two movies I saw and loved quite recently. I think you would be interested to know that I thought this was a very enjoyable read.

Your connections as well as your sense of humor can do wonders!

So what are you waiting for? Do turn this into a continuing quest indeed, and enrich me with your valuable thoughts so that I'll have a basis of comparison to determine how bullshit my own connections are in the 'Oscars vs. Cannes series' which I had been vehemently ignoring for a while.

The Long Take

dreamrot said...

Glad you liked Let The Right One In. For as much as I've mentioned it since seeing it last year, I would have been bummed if you'd hated it.

Fletch said...

Kyle - how do you know it's a fantastic review if you haven't seen the flick yet? ;)

Anil - Dear Reader,

Thank you for your valuable comments. I will throw them against a wall and see if they stick. In other words, I don't know if the 'connection' schtick is something I'll pursue, but I wouldn't say it's out of the question, either.

Seriously, thanks, though.

Dreamrot - yup. And didn't just like it, but really, really liked it. I can't wait to see the bastardized remake strip the soul out of it. Actually, I'm curious to see if they have the guts to end it the same as the original. I'll bet they don't.

Daniel Getahun said...

I'm with you on both of these, though I'm not sure I'd say nobody saw Let the Right One In last year. It was showered with awards throughout the year and popped up on a lot of best of 2008 lists (mine included).

But I'm quibbling. It was in very limited release for a long time and I'm sure most people will catch up with it now on DVD.

Mikey's right, though, that the remake is just going to be horrendously bad.

Fletch said...

Daniel - when I said no one saw Let the Right One In, I was mostly going by the (U.S.) box office. It's made barely $2 million to date. So sad, considering Madea's up to what, 70 so far?

Farzan said...

Glad you liked Coraline Fletch, I loved that film and will get it once it comes out on Blu Ray. Its something everyone should see in the best qulaity ever.

Robb said...

Dude, LTROI just came through on my Netflix, and I have to say thanks for the recommendation. I hadn't even heard of it until I read your review. Easily one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. Haunting and gorgeous and sad, with subtle and satisfying special effects in all the right spots.

I don't see how Hollywood can possibly remake this movie, but I look forward to the opportunity to complain about it. lol