Sunday, May 29, 2011

Movie Review: Let Me In


Let's say I take a masterpiece like Pulp Fiction. Then I translate the dialogues in FIlipino and rewrite the screenplay so the story takes place in Metro Manila. But that's about all I change in the script. It's less of an adaptation and more of a translation. Then I put Robin Padilla there as Jules and Coco Martin as Vincent. Then I turn it into a Filipino movie. If this movie wins any awards, are these my awards or are these Quentin Tarantino's awards?

This is exactly the situation with 2010's Let Me In, Matt Reeves' Americanization of the 2008 Swedish movie, Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in), directed by Tomas Alfredson.

The Swedish movie was adapted from the novel of the same name, written by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also wrote the screenplay. It's the love story between a vampire who looks like a pre-teen girl despite her antiquity and a boy who's feeling more and more alienated and oppressed by the unforgiving world around him. Now, before you can say reverse-Twilight, you must understand that the vampire here is truly monstrous and not some sparkly beefcake who is about as vampiric as an Abercrombie & Fitch model. This movie takes vampire lore seriously and explores the kind of love that rejects all laws and all morality. Not the kind designed to make teenaged snatches wet.

When I earned last year that Americans were going to making their own version of the movie, I was afraid that they would cheapen it. You know, put lots of explosions there. Maybe a few ninjas. I'm glad they didn't. It was truly an Americanization and not a Hollywoodization. It's very faithful to the original movie. So faithful, in fact, that I don't understand why it had to be made at all. Matt Reeves' screenplay is only one draft away from the original script. As the original's director, Tomas Alfredson, said: "If one should remake a film, it's because the original is bad. And I don't think mine is." And he's right. Alfredson's movie isn't bad. It's actually beautiful.

Reeves' movie isn't bad either. It's also as beautiful as Alfredson's. And if you see Reeves' movie without seeing Alfredson's movie, you won't regret it. My problem with Reeves' work is that it's cheating. Whatever praise Reeves got from this should have been Alfredson's. And Reeves got a lot of critical praise from Let Me In.

Or maybe that's just part of the so-called American Way.

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