Border (2018)

The Midnight Cinematic Index (MCI) is our excuse to write a little bit about the movies we’re watching, while applying a totally made up rating system (of course). Welcome!

Written and directed by Ali Abbasi.

Who is the protagonist? Who is the film about?

Tina, an unusual-looking customs security agent at a remote port in Sweden. Tina can smell emotions on people, which makes her great at her job – and also, potentially, at helping the local police solve crimes. Meeting Vore, who looks like her and can do the things she can do, starts a process of unraveling the story she’s been told about her past and discovering who she really is.

Who/what is the antagonist?

Vore is certainly the most important other character in Border, though he’s not really the antagonist… he’s more of a catalyst for Tina, the person with and through whom she figures out who she is. I just learned the technical term for this – in case you’re interested, it’s deuteragonist. Learn something new every day.

Human civilization, or a human-dominated world feels more like the true antagonist here; Border reminds us that the earth hasn’t always been this way.

Midnight Cinematic Index (MCI) Rating: 4.0

Characters: 4

Though Tina is a great protagonist – ragged and battered by the world, with great depths of kindness and ferocity – Vore’s strangeness, menace, and magnetism catalyze her self-discovery.

Style: 3.5

Though not stylistically revolutionary, this film is a really nice, spacious, Scandinavian-feeling movie. Sparse dialogue and nicely framed visuals emphasize the contrast between the bright openness of the outside world with the fluorescent tedium of workplaces and the oppressive smallness of human homes.

Structure: 4.5

A monster movie told from the monster’s perspective, Border’s greatest strength are its structural choices. The way Tina slowly begins to uncover the lost pieces of her own story center the film on identity, self-discovery, and the strength it takes to choose your own path. As a troll.

Ideas: 4

“What if magic does exist?” is one of the most fun questions to hang out with,and you get to do that with this movie, which explores what it might be like if primeval, magical creatures existed on the edges of contemporary human society. Lots of good stuff here: ancient creatures, primal instincts, witchy nature, human ugliness, magic abilities, identity, family, belonging.

Bonus: bug-eating, surprising genitalia, a weird roommate.

Midnight Rating: 4

I especially love the softness and benevolence of the natural world in this movie. It really makes the forest look like a magical and abundant place. The wild, animalistic abandon the two leads experience is almost unhinged it’s so expressive, and it’s awesome how the actors really go for it. Only criticism, and it’s small, is that the whole child exploitation plotline feels like an unnecessarily intense and complicated situation to be not much more than a plot device here.

Watch this movie if… you want a mysterious, very Scandinavian experience that is relaxed but intriguing, a little bit romantic, and darker than you expected.

Border is available to stream on Hulu, or rentable (iTunes/Google Play).

In the same movie family as…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s