Friday, October 08, 2010

Let Me In

With few exceptions, a Hollywood remake of a foreign film results in a five fold budget mutilation of artistic expression to produce the cinematic equivalent of Walmart. At worst, we get travesties like The Vanishing (1993), but more often than not we simply get louder explosions, fancier special effects, more expensive sets, and performances by actors going through the motions for the money.

Almost always, remakes are about the money, so we put Bridget Fonda and Gabriel Byrne together for La Femme Nikita (1997). We put Al Pacino in Insomnia (2002) and Sarah Michelle Gellar in The Grudge (2005), Jessica Alba and Alessandro Nivola into The Eye (2007), and so on.

They’re after the money, and by and large, they suck.

Note that I said with few exceptions, because Director Matt Reeves has successfully created a remake, Let Me In (2010), that actually rivals the original film, the extraordinary Swedish work by Tomas Afredson, Let the Right One In (2008), based on the 2004 novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist. I posted Blood in the Snow immediately after seeing the original.

(The Hug Shot - Above in the original film and below in the remake) Let Me In is good cinema that effectively captures what worked in the original film, in some cases enhances it, and cuts what detracts. Both films effectively create a somber, unsettling edge that comes from character ages so low (12) that innocence and young affection accentuate the violence and sexual tension. I don't think I have ever heard the line, "Do you like me?" pack such weight.

Both films move at a slow pace (incurring the wrath of many film critics), but they do so for the same reason understood by few film critics, which is that done right, slow cuts deeper. That said, without question the remake shifts in the American direction, most noticeably in the intensity of the vampire's violence. With sound design at volume reinforced by more graphic imagery, what this little girl is and can do requires far less imagination.

Let Me In is a remake of Let the Right One In, and without question it regards its source with great admiration and respect, seeking to match and improve upon the original's intent. Many shots and scenes are almost carbon copies down to the last detail. For cinema aficionados, watching both films and noting the contrasts is entirely worthwhile, in particular the swimming pool climax scenes in each.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home