Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Is Me Gonna Be The Right One?

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Howdy! JA from MNPP here. I was a big, huge fan of last year's bloody and bloody-good Swedish coming-of-age tale Let the Right One In - made #2 on my year-end list, it did - as I'm sure many of you were too. So when news broke of the American remake, I joined in on the earth-rattling sigh we all let forth.

But since then I've been keeping abreast of the news and have found myself having a bit of a mental tennis-match over it all. I was a bigger-than-most fan of Cloverfield - a jolly good time in the theater I thought, even though yes, I don't get how anyone could walk sixty blocks in heels either - so word of that film's director, Matt Reeves, taking the reins on the Right One remake dulled my hate-lust a wee bit. A weeeeee bit. I still don't think he can possibly match the heights Tomas Alfredson did, but I do think he can maybe make a go of it without totally blowing it.

Then came word that they were going to use a more literal translation of the book's Swedish title - instead of Let the Right One In it would simply be Let Me In. Oh I raged at first - way to vanquish the poetry, you guys! If was gonna be their general attitude, literalizing the beauty right out of the original, then I knew we were in for what we expected - an edge-dulled Hollywood bore. But the further I got from that, the more I began to appreciate the title-switcharoo. Not because I thought it wasn't a sign of what I just called it mind you, but for reasons purely of self-interest: I'm appreciating every step they take to distance their remake from the original. Let the Right One In keeps its space on the video-store shelf; it keeps its own IMDb page (or at least it will once IMDb gets around to recognizing the title-change, which it hasn't yet). When somebody talks about one film there won't be the need to qualify which one you mean. So simple, so easy, especially for a blogger like me who'd inevitably get tired of specifying. All that extra typing!

And according to script reports they're going even further distancing the two films by renaming at least the two main characters - instead of Oskar and Eli we now have Owen and Abby. Which... again I refer you to the tennis match in my head. We've swung back to unhappiness. In the book (which I'd quote if I had my copy right now), Eli's name has some very specific and deeply significant purpose on a couple of fronts. Slight spoilers ho for those of you who haven't seen the film. See, the name is taken from the Latin Aramaic "Eli Eli lama sabachthani?" which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" which is of course what Jesus utters as he dies on the cross. How do you just erase without a second thought to that sort of beautiful character shading? I don't get it. And secondly, it confuses Eli's gender which is a pretty important point. Renaming her/him to Abby pretty much guarantees that that's something they're probably nixing from the remake. Again, dulling off all the interesting edges. Not good. End spoilers.

But then came the rumor that the very good Australian child actor Kodi Smit-McPhee might be taking the role of Oskar excuse me Owen. I've only seen him in Romulus, My Father but he was terrific there, and Nathaniel tells me that he gives a very good performance in this Fall's Cormac McCarthy adaptation The Road. And he definitely looks like he could play this part. And he's the right age - it's good to see they're not casting older. So all that's a step in the right direction.

Then came some early artwork for the remake yesterday; you can see them here - including that poster to the left - and they're not too bad. Give the right mood, at least.

So again I don't know where I stand on this film. I don't believe it can top the Swedish film but I'm curious, obviously, all the same. Perhaps they can find something worth the retelling in it so soon. Like I keep saying at my own blog, at least the CG cat-attack will have a higher budget and look better than it did in the original.

And now for the obvious question to you all: With Kodi Smit-McPhee probably playing the boy part, who should get cast as Eli excuse me Abby? What young actress has the goods? I was kind of surprised but the first girl I thought of was Dakota Blue Richards who was wonderful in The Golden Compass and then sort of vanished, but a) I can't decide if that's good casting or not, and b) She's fifteen now so maybe a little old for the part. Smit-McPhee is 13. But then Eli excuse me Abby IS older, much much older... I don't think it would be terrible if she looked a year or two older than the boy.

ETA Slash/Film has posted a trio of casting tapes for the role of Abby up today! Coincidence? Conspiracy? You decide!

Hrm. Casting ideas? Your thoughts?
General concerns?
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19 comments:

mrripley said...

i read that the girl starring in the new horror flick orphan has been cast.

JA said...

Ya know... I haven't seen that film, and after Joshua I'm a little tired of this weird niche of "mother of psychos" that Vera Farmiga's carved out for herself so I probably won't see it, but every time I watch the trailer I think that girl seems great. And she - her name is Isabelle Fuhrman - is only 12 so she's perfect age-wise. Hmm. Possibly interesting, that.

Mikadzuki said...

Just to clear this up: "Let Me In" is not a more literal translation as the studio claims - it couldn't be, since "Let the Right One In" is already a 100% literal translation.

Doc_P said...

One minor point. The phrase "eli, eli ..." is Aramaic, not Latin, and originally came from Psalms in the old testament, where it was in Biblical Hebrew

JA said...

Mikadzuki, that seemed the case to me but I didn't know Swedish, so thanks for clearing that up. I meant to question the statement.

Doc P, I can't believe I wrote Latin, ugh, thanks for smacking me upside the head over that one. Of course, Aramaic. Ugh, embarrassed.

Joel said...

"Let the Right One In" is a literal translation of the title of a Morrissey song...

The kids kinda need to be pre-pubertal, to preserve the "innocence" of the friendship.

brianmaru said...

Very much with you on this one. I don't see a need for a remake, for I am sure it's going to be at least slightly watered down. Not against remakes altogether but you need to bring a fresh perspective and not expecting one here.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I, too, have a nasty feeling that Eli's (SPOILER-Y) ambiguity (END SPOILER-Y) will be removed from the American version of the film because, you know us Americans, we're not smart enough to deal with unanswered questions.

It's very difficult to see how this newer version can improve on the original. LTROI really skillfully left out of the film details/characters/subplots that appeared in the book, at times creating some really beautiful ambiguity that wasn't even present in the book. Like you said, replacing "Eli" with "Abby" really hints that those gorgeous edges you mentioned will be dulled.

The Warfreak said...

Wow. I didn't even know they were remaking it.

whoopknacker said...

The girl likely will be Chloe Moretz. She auditioned on the leaked vids. Now her mother is saying on IMDB that she has a new role shooting in the fall and is very excited about it. Sounds very good. I am excited about this film.

Simone said...

I loved LTROI and I was and still am irked that there will be an American remake because stupid lazy americans can't bother with the Swedish version. The name changes are already pissing me off. Owen and Abbey? You can't get more Oklahoma than that!

vince said...

You're very open-minded.

I forgot they were remaking. Thanks for reminding me.

*my whole body suddenly evaporates in flames*

Majo said...

I just don't know, WHY is so necessary to remake the film? Watch the original, people! I hate how Hollywood (and North America) works.

Randy said...

The second I started to read this, I was prepared for a nasty sensation rising up in my stomach. I've seen the original three times, and each has been a very special experience for me. I haven't been able to read the book yet but I am aware that the title echoes Morrissey's song "Let the Right One Slip In". In light of this, the proposed literal translation is ridiculous. There are references to lyrics from other songs, such as "I am not naturally evil". Also, the way Eli's ambiguous gender identity was handled, the innocence of it, was wonderful, and definitely something not to be ignored. Why does it seem that the forthcoming and other remakes are only made for profit from dumb people. Everything is toned down and cliched for the sole purpose of bland entertainment, void of any real emotion?

M. Liolia/Saskia said...

I don't like the idea of the remake, yet I'm curious as well D:

M. Liolia/Saskia said...

I don't like the idea of a remake, yet I'm still very curious o.o

Anonymous said...

hollywood needs to do the remake for several reasons:

1) it is a great story and vampires are "in" so it is guaranteed that it will make lots of $.

2) I believe the director loves the story and wants everyone to see it, but apparently americans are too dumb to read subtitles, to deal with characters that are not american, and yes, to have unanswered questions... too much to think about.

just like vanilla sky. what a great movie "open you eyes" was. it was perfect, then comes tom cruise, who loved it and then ruined it. even casting penelope cruise... she was just not the same being directed by someone different. at the end, the had to explained what E.L.E like the were explaining it to a 2 year old. again, apparently americans are not smart enough to understand things that are clearly implied... you have to REALLY explain them s l o w l y.

i just find the whole thing offensive, but I will see the remake, and I will be mad, and it will be super popular, I will kill myself trying to explain to everyone how this awesome film is swedish and a remake, and they will make their money, i will just waste a lot of enery... just like now writing this. wow, I am already exhausted.

Claire said...

Wow, I would never think of Dakota Blue Richards, but now that you say that, she would be perfect. I obcessed over The Golden Compass, and she was excellent in that movie.

I have to say, that I really do hate this remake, but at least they seem to make a try at making it goood.

CEC said...

The point you made about the relevance of the name "Eli" and its biblical origin I think is not completely accurate. It is mentioned in the book but only as a speculation by the cops when they hear disfigured Hakan on the pool dressing room calling for ELI and they trying to figure out the meaning of what he was yelling. Besides this was cut completely from the movie. Eli, IMO was just the short form of Elias (Eli's real name).
Having said that, I am curious to see how the remake/adaptation plays out. Just recently finished reading the book and immediately afterwards saw the movie. Thought that may have been a mistake since after reading the book, the movie left me wanting a bit more. Particularly regarding the darker tone the book seemed to have.