Film Festival Movie Review

Film Review: BORDER: Fantasy at its Most Fearless and Gruesome [LFF 2018]

Jorgen Thorsson Eva Melander Border

LFF 2018 Border Review

Border (2018) Film Review from the 62nd Annual London Film Festival, a movie directed by Ali Abassi, starring Eva Melander, Eera Milonoff, Sten Ljunggren, Jorgen Thorsson, Viktor Akerblom, Rakel Warmlander, Ann Petren, Kjell Wilhelmsen and Matti Boustedt. 

It is difficult to recommend Border. Then again, it is equally tough to advise against it. Spoilers can’t really be made about this movie because it is highly unlikely that anyone will believe the plot. Mildly put, it is a bizarre fantasy film by Ali Abassi, which puts viewers’ stomachs and open-mindedness to the test. There are two types of filmgoers. The first type watches the Lord of the Rings and is blown away by it. The second type just can’t buy all the magical nonsense. Well, you certainly have to be closer to the first type in order to make it through Border’s 110 minutes.

Difficult Characters That Are Played Powerfully

The plot revolves around a disfigured woman with a special ability. Things take a turn for the utterly insane when she meets someone just like her. Describing the plot any further is fruitless. It has to be experienced. Or not – depends on how much you have eaten prior to the screening. The main actors are Eva Melander and Eero Milonoff. Their roles require improvisation, complete commitment and perhaps, a tiny bit of embarrassment.  Melander in particular gets to show a lot beneath her thick makeup – from hopeless grief to frenzied ecstasy. Both, however, deserve a lot of respect because they pull it off marvelously. The supporting cast is also on point even though the script is dead-centered on its two main characters.

Tough to Watch, One of a Kind Fantasy

Border is a big. ambitious metaphor. The most unique and best fantasy films are. The story addresses every person in the world who feels like an outcast because of the differences of his or her body. The flexible borders of the fantasy genre allow that concept to be explored to great lengths. The film kind of feels like one of those record-breaking high dives. It is done just once – the goal is to prove that it is possible. It is a great idea but it is also so controversial, disturbing and outlandish that it’s unlikely that anyone will attempt something like it again.

The film asks the single, most-painful question. Is such life worth living? The answer is not easy. The horror elements of the story are so disturbing that one would easily forgive an attempted suicide by the protagonist. It would be easy for a critic to state that the motion picture relies of physical grotesqueness alone. That is not true. The protagonist, as magical as she is, goes through the dramatic events, which would undeniably mark the lives of her real-life counterparts. Life keeps battering her down. She can’t escape the inevitability of what she is. However, her will to live keeps getting her back on her feet.

Border’s Disturbing Imagery

So, where can one even begin? A non-spoiler example would be the fact that this film features more scenes of humans devouring maggots than any other. Small ones, long ones, fat ones, crushed ones (you know, so they can be more easily spread over bread). These guys literally give Timon and Pumba from The Lion King a run for their money. Additionally, there is a sex scene, which is more disturbing than anything Lars Von Trier and Gaspar Noel have spawned in their careers put together. Of course, there is much, much more.

Too much, in fact. The most fervent critics of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ accused the film that its gruesome bloodshed dulls its message. That is undeniably the case here. Many audience members weren’t engrossed in the dramatic moments. They were laughing, as one does when things get really over the top. As a matter of fact, this is where the film’s one big fault lies. A film-maker can cross the line of the acceptable but he or she has to make sure that the viewers follow him there. That’s not really the case here. The film shocks but it doesn’t immerse. And since the audience is too busy trying not to throw up, how can it fully step into the shoes of these admittedly damaged characters?

Bold and Divisive

Border’s eventual impact will vary depending on who is watching. The most devoted of movie aficionados will go crazy over the film’s commitment to its aesthetics and ideas. Those who just want to have fun will wish they could turn back time or erase their memories, at least. Objectively speaking, it is a motion picture involving big ideas that are smartly realized through the means of the fantasy genre. The level of disturbingly graphic imagery will either push away or impress viewers. Whichever group you belong to, make sure you enter the theater on an empty stomach and enjoy this insane experience as much as you can.

Rating: 5/10

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About the author

Deyan Angelov

My name is Deyan Angelov and I am 25. I have written articles for FilmBook. I graduated from the University of London, Royal Holloway in 2014. I have worked as an air operator, sound recorder and camera operator for different TV stations. I have participated in a variety of internships at Nu Boyana Film Studios.

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