The film, directed by and co-written by Ali Abbasi, follows the life of Tina, who thinks she is all alone in the world because of a ‘chromosome deformity’. She is a well-respected member of Swedish border security as her acute sense of smell allows her to smell people’s guilt and shame, which comes in handy when targeting smugglers and paedophiles. However, when she meets Vore, a person who looks like her, she learns that her life has been a façade and that she does not suffer from a medical ailment, but instead she has a far more exotic, and empowering condition.
I would go into more detail, but the only way to experience this film properly is to see it for yourself, without any prior knowledge or preconceived notions. ‘Border’ is quite possibly the strangest film I have ever seen. It was a wild ride of a fever dream, I’ve never tripped on drugs, but I’d imagine this is very close to what it may be like. It is an incredible achievement in filmmaking, with Lindqvist’s signature blend of social realism and Scandinavian folklore setting the stage for both his and Abbasi’s imaginations to roam free.
When the film finished, instead of the usual crumpling of crisp packets and the general hustle and bustle of people leaving their seats, the cinema was silent. There was a shared sense of bewilderment and no one was quite sure how to respond to what we had all watched. Throughout the film you would hear giggles or see the shoulders of the person in front of you bouncing as they were trying to suppress laughter, this seemed to be the reaction of most audience members at the more risqué scenes, it was a nervous knee-jerk reaction to the unabashed weirdness that was ‘Border’.
Eva Melander’s performance as Tina is outstanding and highly moving. There is such raw emotion and commitment brought to the character, providing moments of pure rage, love, lust and loneliness. The film provides nuanced commentary on what it means to be human and is truly an empowering piece of art for anyone who has ever felt excluded and deficient in some indefinable sense. So, really it is a film for everyone, because in one way or another we are all outsiders learning that people are not always what they seem to be.
By Emily Parry
Image courtesy of The Telegraph