Naked and spectacular

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Border [2018] by Ali Abbasi

Border (image 1)

An ugly woman working on border patrol has a strange talent for being able to smell fear and guilt on people, perfect for sniffing out who has too much duty-free alcohol.  But her talent, and her ugliness, is a mystery to her, until she meets someone who looks similar.  He likes roaming the forest and eating insects, and he has the clue to her peculiarity.

This film is fun, although it's not funny.  It is a genre film for people not dumb enough for most genre films.  Although it's dealing with trolls, mythical creatures of the European woods, there is something subversive about them roaming naked through the forest, encountering wildlife peacefully, eating insects, shrieking joyously in the river in the rain.  But the film always restrains itself, never reverting to sensationalism or sentimentality.  Always dry, always grounded and never giving in to the obvious pitfalls of genre convention.  Having said, this feels like it could be the start of a franchise, but let's hope not; let's hope that our myths are retold, as in this film, with integrity and feeling and not exploited to sell merchandise like the crap of the multiplex.

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