Border movie poster
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Border
Border movie poster

Border Movie Review

Please note that this review contains spoilers, including in the first paragraph.

Sometimes you watch a movie knowing absolutely nothing about it, and sometimes that movie ends up being about an extremely ugly woman who turns out to be a literal troll with a retractable penis and the ability to, again literally, sniff out pedophiles. Sometimes—just sometimes—movies with such a plot turn out to be excellent.

Border is Sweden’s official entry for this year’s Academy Awards, and as weird as it sounds, it is a spectacularly good movie that will be remembered long after all the more traditional foreign language films about boring foreign things have come and gone.

Eva Melander, who—I checked—is not nearly as ugly in real life—stars as Tina, a TSA agent who looks like a Neanderthal and who has an uncanny ability to smell fear, lies, and deceit. After uncovering a pedophile by smelling his cell phone, she meets a dude who looks a lot like her and who has some very curious habits and outlooks on life, practically setting up the hottest sex scene you’ll see all year.

I’m getting excited just thinking about it.

Clearly, if you haven’t already figured it out, Border isn’t for everyone, but if you’re still reading this review then maybe you are just depraved enough to give it a whirl. And in reality, Border is a serious, well made drama that isn’t all that depraved—retractable female penis aside—and that presents one of the most interesting characters in recent memory amidst themes of identity and self discovery (more intelligent and boring critics will surely discuss more complex themes in more complex ways, but who wants to read about that?).

Melander is terrific, as is Eero Milonoff as her strange counterpart. I can only imagine how challenging it would have been for these actors to take their scenes seriously, and yet seriously they do. Their dedication to their roles is impossible to ignore, and frankly you won’t even blink as the film’s unpredictable plot unfolds.

Much credit must be given to director Ali Abbasi, working from a short story by John Ajvide Lindqvist (Let the Right One In). Few could pull off a movie such as this with sincerity and groundedness, and yet Border feels real, organic, believable. Engrossing.

Will I watch Border over and over again over the years? Probably not. And yet it’s a powerfully made and fascinating film that will be hard to forget, both for its characters and its quality. Sometimes you watch a movie you know nothing about it and it ends up surprising you in magnificent ways.

And with a retractable penis.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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