The race for the 91st Academy Awards’ Foreign Film category has long started, and this week the Cambridge Film Festival had the pleasure of screening the Swedish submission, Ali Abbasi’s fantasy film BORDER (GRÄNS).
The tale featured in BORDER is a classic one: a protagonist, very much different to its entourage, possesses an unexplained power. It leads a misunderstood life until a tumultuous encounter with one of its own, who divulges the main character’s true identity by giving a motivational “You are special” speech. Enraged by the lies and discrimination faced in its lifetime, the tormented protagonist then overcomes an adventure, which will unleash its powers to their full potential, ultimately leading it to understand its powers’ value and ethics.
Based on the short story of the same name, written by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist, BORDER tells the story of Tina, a Swedish customs officer at a ferry station. She has the talent of sniffing out human emotions, leading her to uncover illegal trafficking. She lives in a secluded shed in the woods with a dog trainer named Roland. Eccentric and unattractive, her attitude and looks do not conform to society’s standards. One day, she stops a business man and finds a memory card filled with child pornography. She is then hired by her boss to take part in the investigation. Here arrives Vore, a strange man with similar features to Tina’s. She stops him at the border control and they begin to be infatuated with each other. They begin an ambiguous relationship, leading Vore to reveal Tina’s mysterious origins.
The narrative in BORDER has been dealt with countless of times within the history of cinema, theatre and literature, yet Swedish-Iranian director Ali Abbasi takes it one step further by displaying rather explicit and absurd content. Know to expect the unexpected.
BORDER will be repeated on the 1st of November at 3:30pm at the Arts Picturehouse.