‘Border’ Promises To Be A Uniquely Off-Kilter Experience

If Ali Abbasi’s new film isn’t already on your radar, it’s about to be.
By  · Published on September 28th, 2018

The end of 2018 is shaping up to be pretty damn fantastic time for movies, with highly-anticipated releases like Suspiria and First Man already generating buzz (sorry). You’d be forgiven, then, for allowing some of the smaller films to slip through the cracks. But one that you absolutely shouldn’t be sleeping on is the second feature film from writer/director Ali AbbasiBorder

If you like movies a little on the strange side, this may be for you. Co-written by Abbasi, John Ajvide Lindqvist, and Isabella Eklöf, Border won the Un Certain Regard award at the Cannes Film Festival this year before being picked up by NEON. The Swedish-language film is based on a short story by Lindqvist, who is best known for writing “Let the Right One In” (and its excellent first film adaptation) and stars Eva Melander and Eero Milonoff.

A synopsis tells us the following:

Tina (Eva Melander) is a border guard who has the ability to smell human emotions and catch smugglers. When she comes across a mysterious man with a smell that confounds her detection, she is forced to confront hugely disturbing insights about herself and humankind.

And if that sounds up your alley, check out the trailer:

The trailer opens with a strikingly sad portrayal of a lonely woman, Tina, whose disfigurements cause her to be something of an outcast. Her co-workers struggle to look at her, she gets stared at while doing shopping, and her most meaningful interaction is with a fox at her window (the best movie fox since Antichrist).

But all that changes when one day at work she meets Vore, a man with a very similar disfigurement. And if this is beginning to sound like the beginning of a formulaic rom-com, then buckle up. The two instantly bond, going on a romantic walk through a forest and sharing their stories. “There’s no flaw in you,” Vore tells Tina before the trailer takes a dark turn.

“There’s a lot you don’t know about,” Vore ominously says, as we see him in a bleak field, full of oddly arranged rocks. He becomes curious about a notable scar on Tina’s face, one that bears a puzzling resemblance to a scar of his own. What is it that links these two together? And are there sinister forces at work here?

A flurry of images hit the screen — the fox, a baby, and a man being hit by a car among them. “Who am I?” Tina asks, as she begins to question everything she’s ever known to be true. She goes to confront her father, furious about some dark secret being kept from her. A box containing a piece of this secret is opened, as Tina looks on in horror.  Frantically cut together images show somebody jumping from a high place, a man lying dead in the road, and a barking dog before the trailer ends with Tina screaming.

Well, that was certainly something. Border looks to be a fascinating blend of romance, fantasy, and mystery, with even this short two-minute trailer giving us a lot to think over. And the prosthetics on the two lead actors are so convincing that I was surprised to find out that this isn’t actually how Melander and Milonoff look in real life.

Visually, the trailer expertly puts us in Tina’s head — the blandness of her workplace, the bright green of the forest where she walks with Vore, and the muted colors when secrets are exposed. The secret at the center of the film remains a mystery, and it’s one we can’t wait to solve.

Border opens in the US on October 26th and premieres in the UK at the London Film Festival in October.

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