Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Good vs. Evil (Heroes and Villains of 2008 Cinema)

Getting close to wrapping the FB Awards now. Or closer at any rate. The Hero & Villain categories were easier than usual and you can click on over for thoughts on characters from films such as Iron Man, Milk, Happy-Go-Lucky, Entres Les Murs, WALL•E and more.

The inclusion of Let the Right One In might surprise some people --and if you haven't seen the film which comes to DVD in March, you might want to skip this paragraph (spoilers). Most people who love the film seem to prefer to think of it as a clever coming of age story wrapped up in vampiric darkness. Eli the girlboysomething with a taste for blood has invited a lot of sympathy in movie lovers and in her child friend, the bullied Oskar. She doesn't scream "I'm evil!" to everyone. But sympathy for the devil tends to be the most valuable tool in the monstrous arsenal. This is how most vampires suck people in (no pun intended) until it's far too late. I think Låt den Rätte Komma In is much much scarier if you divorce yourself from compassion and really consider what its ending projects for the young friends. To some degree the last 20 minutes or so play like typical movie wish fulfillment / 'revenge is sweet' happy ending. But in the not too distant future won't Oskar be bleeding teenage boys to death in the forest to feed his precious Eli, just like his predecessor, until he's old and grey?

Now, that is scary. Little abused Oskar as a serial killing Swedish Renfield. That's not a happy ending at all.

FiLM BiTCH Awards 2008
Page 1: Best Picture, Director and Screenplays
Page 2: Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress
Page 3: Visual Technical Categories
Page 4: Aural Technical Categories (and the nomination tallies)
Page 5: Acting extras
Page 6: Heroes, Villains and more...
Page 7: Scenes
Page 8: More Scenes (and nomination tallies)
Page 9: Reader's Choice

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11 comments:

Ali Arikan said...

But in the not too distant future won't Oskar be bleeding teenage boys to death in the forest to feed his precious Eli, just like his predecessor, until he's old and grey?

Nathaniel - that is exactly what I argued in my review of the film, which has one of the most deceptive endings in the history of the movies.

Nick M. said...

The ending of Let The Right One In is certainly disturbing, as is the conflicted idea of "justice" that runs throughout.

When I clicked over to the Hero and Villain page, I initially mistook Francois Marin's placement. I thought you had placed him in the "villain" category, and for a moment I thought, "Interesting..."

Shawn said...

Dang. I never thought about the ending that way. Now I'm just a little bit depressed.

NATHANIEL R said...

well François is definitely a flawed hero. But that's the way I like them best.

JA said...

I read the film the same way as you, Nat, but that's what I love about it - that it can play either way and is so deceptive in its true intent. Just like Eli! It's a terrifically depressing film about soulless people finding their soulless-mate.

bubba said...

That was certainly my interpretation of the ending of "Let the Right One In" as well. But I think it is interesting to note our reading was not the intention of the author.

In the novel, Eli's previous caretaker was a pedophile (they met when he was already middle-aged), and their relationship was purely symbiotic in nature (Eli provides "company" while he provides blood). Eli's relationship with Oskar, however, is not. It is very much based in love (Eli strives throughout the story to pretend to be "normal", not out of deception), and the novel even suggests at the end how Eli can continue to survive without Oskar's doing.

But I agree, whether intentional or not, the movie is more effective precisely because it is left open to interpretation. And regardless, the fact remains that Oskar is bound by age, and his relationship with Eli is still ultimately doomed.

chris Na Taraja said...

I still think Jon Malkovich as the angry alcoholic in Burn After Reading is the best villain of the year...certainly the funniest.

Ok I have a sick sense of humor, he does kill people in this film, but then again, I like Chicago and Sweeny Todd too!

Mike said...

yeah, as someone else pointed out that interpretation of Let The Right One In isn't what is intended from the novel...and while I do agree there is enough there in the film version to come to that ending I don't think it was changed to "lock down" that Eli=Hakan future...I think it was just to give the viewer some more room to use their imagination. The film is very faithful to the novel on the whole, but there are little details and backstory left out to intentionally allow things in the film to be ambiguous that really aren't that way in the novel.

Alex in Movieland said...

I'm just stepping on here. But couldn't Eli just make a vampire out of Oskar? and they could both live happily as vampire kids ever ever after?!

anyway, I think Eli was more a hero than a villain. IMO. it's the fact of who brings justice at the end of the film. and she does. even if she's hungry once in a while :P

Bing147 said...

Ya, I came in here to point out what bubba already said. And frankly, at his age, Oscar wouldn't even be capable of doing for Eli what the old guy did, she isn't bringing him along as a helper but out of genuine compassion.

She'd only been with her newest for a short while. Which should be obvious from the fact that he's so inept at his killings. If he'd been doing this for 40 years, he'd be a heck of a lot better at it or he wouldn't still be free to do it.

yadayadayada said...

Wow LTROI fans would bleed you dry if they saw Eli included as a villain.

But yeah, the movie's great because of the moral ambiguity and the different layers of interpretations available for the ending.

1st ->Love story w/ vampires (happy)
2nd ->Vampire manipulating kid (horrifying)
the 3rd and the one most fans agree is
3rd ->tragic ending. Eli truly loves Oskar but will do the responsible thing and push him away after a few happy years so he doesn't have to suffer the fate of her previous caretaker.

The 2nd interpretation has its appeal because in that scenario instead of a doomed relationship where both characters long for the impossible, at least Eli is happy.

To be fair, in the movie Eli doesn't ask anything of Oskar except for his acceptance...