Border (Gräns) (2018)



This is undoubtably an unusual movie. Like a genre mash up of a Scandi crime drama and a dark and dirty fairytale, Border keeps you decidedly uncomfortable from start to end.

Tina (Eva Melander) is a lonely figure. Appreciated by her colleagues at a port border control for her ability to literally sniff out smugglers, her solid physique and heavy features due, she believes, to a chromosomal abnormality, make her a social outcast. Her days are quiet and plodding, lacking in light and shade and any sense of joy. She lives with Roland (Jörgen Thorsson), a callow man worried more for his “muscular, not fighting” dogs than for Tina.

What makes Tina so useful in her job is her ability to smell people’s fear, rage, and shame. On a day like any other, her colourless world is irreversibly disturbed when Vore (Eero Milanoff) enters her life. Vore looks just like Tina but has a simmering power and sense of purpose that she lacks.

I won’t say anything more about the plot; it’s one of those films where it’s best to know very little before hand. The story takes you on a dark and meandering journey that explores human dominance, the nature of evil and what gives life meaning. It is patchy in its intensity and is at its best when it focuses on Tina and her search for identity.

It says some profound things, I suspect, about humans, animals and nature but it’s a muddy tale that is either too simplistic to be profound or too complex to be easily understood. I’m still not sure.

There are some glorious moments; when Tina finds her power and ferocity we feel how her world has become richer and smell, taste and touch are heightened. You can’t help but see parallels with all people denied the truth about their self who are allowed to come into their own as adults.

I like what it is perhaps touching on about gender and its non-binary nature. I’m not so sure about the conclusion though. Although on the surface it seems to be a critique of our contemporary world’s exploitation of nature, at its heart it is pro-human and anti-radical.

Have you seen this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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