By Mónica Delgado

Based on John Ajvide Lindquist’s novel (the same author of Let the Right One In), Gräns (Border), Ali Abbasi’s film, is a special experience. Lindquist portrays the story of a police woman with a bloated and deformed shape, who relates to the world through animal impulses. The story takes from local myths and Nordic folklore, with echoes of tales of werewolves and other supernatural monsters.

Presented in Un Certain Regard, the Danish film turned out to be a surprise due to the hybrid it possesses, something between a genre film and documentary. Abassi poses, beyond the fantastic facade of the story he narrates, a successful gaze about the other, racism and social indifference, taking as a starting point his weird “fairy tale”.

Tina, played by the veteran Swedish actress Eva Melander, is a character that is still searching for her place in the world, and who completes this aspect of her life with the apparition of a man who is very similar to her. After that, she discovers that she belongs to another kind of community, where certain ways of living are relating is kept. Through this encounter, the film bets for a strange love story, an animal one, with passion. The character mutates from an alien being, a victim of bullying from her appearance, to an empowered woman, who unleashes her bestial fury and admits her unique nature.

Abassi achieves an outstanding narrative ability in this film; especially because he escapes an easy way of thriller storytelling (there is a sub-plot of pedophilia that could’ve affected the result of the film) and chooses to bet for a love tale with no common places, achieving some strokes of surprise with light Cronenbergian touches. So far, one of the favorite films of the section.

Un Certain Regard
Director: Ali Abbasi
Script: John Ajvide Lindquist
Cinematography: Nadim Carlsen
Editing: Olivia Neergaard-Holm, Anders Skov
Music: Christoffer Berg
Sweden, Denmark, 2018, 101 minutes.