4.5, Europe

Let the Right One In

Life as Fiction (Through Time)

Let the Right One In by Tomas Alfredsson is the yearly favorite from 2008 as listed in Life as Fiction (Through Time): An Exercise in the Clockwork and Constriction of Cinematic History, a project to chronicle my favorite film from each year since 1921.

2008 / Tomas Alfredson > Ever since I first saw this by happenstance at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008, it’s been stuck in my mind. Coming of age stories tend to hold a constant place in my heart, but the choicest of these only float around once in while. Each has its own little niche: Rushmore channeled overachievement and the quirkiness of Wes Anderson, Hana and Alice dove into the teenage dramatics of Shunji Iwai and Let the Right One In somehow molds youth, alienation and things that go bump in the night into one cohesive jolt. Alfredson has created a film rooted in a dark loneliness and an even darker elegance. Every scene and detail is necessary, and even those that come across borderline-kitschy end up making sense in context.

But let’s get the whole vampire bit cleared: This isn’t one of those bloodsucking genre films that go by-the-book in their treatment of the Draculan descendants. Just like Cloverfield was an episode of The O.C. with a monster in it, Let the Right One In is a coming-of-age love story that happens to include someone with a penchant for blood. It’s a surprisingly tactful method of curving an otherwise generic story into one of the year’s best films. Rarely does the script take the viewer’s intelligence for granted: myths are mostly hinted at, the gory visuals kept minimal and the camera angles respect our ability to extrapolate. The last sequence at the pool? It includes arguably the best scene in film from 2008. When Oskar’s eyes open up, it’s almost perfect.

Originally posted on March 12, 2009 before inclusion into (Through Time).