The implication of the word ‘border’ migrates in its essence from the literal to the fantastical to the allegorical as the plot of this genre-defying Swedish movie unfolds.
Tina (Eva Melander) is an unprepossessing customs officer at a an international ferry port; she looks different from other people due to a chromosome flaw as she will explain. She also has a unique talent of being able to smell fear and guilt on people, making her an exceptional asset for border security. She is an honest, diligent person, but her facial deformities scare most people off and she feels most at home in nature and with animals.
One day a traveller, Vore (Eero Milonoff), passes through customs who has similar physical features to Tina, combined with a devil-may-care attitude. Tina is intrigued and finds out where he will be staying during his visit. She goes by his hostel later and is awkwardly interested in him, and offers him to stay at the guest room in her own place.
Vore knows more about the chromosome flaw they share than Tina, and he introduces her to a new world view as a result of this. On the one hand she doesn’t know what to make of Vore and whether she can trust him, while on the other hand clearly being attracted to him, resulting amongst others in a sex scene as you will not have seen before. But Vore turns out to have ambitions that don’t sit right with Tina’s sense of right and wrong; must she choose a different set of beliefs, a different world view, a different identity, a different life, or is it possible to reconcile her old life with what she has learned from Vore?
Eva Melander is great as Tina, intriguing the audience by conveying subtle emotions through Oscar-nominated prosthetics that are well-balanced between fantastical and realistic to allow Tina to fit in both of her worlds. The cinematography creates a drab atmosphere that fits well with both the realistic and fantastical side of Tina’s life. The script is creative, with a a sub-plot that both jars and grounds the movie in a harsh reality, adding to the complexity of Tina’s feelings. Drawing on some aspects of Nordic folklore, the movie presents as a dark fairy tale about identity and belonging whilst struggling with what is right and wrong,
At face value a humble movie, it packs a pleasantly surprising punch in its relevant and confrontational allegory of identity diversity we see around us today. Does everyone around you feel at home or fit in? Do you?