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Let It Be, the definitive Let Me In review

Friday 12 November 2010, 15:26

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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Lest there remain scinitillae of doubt in your minds, be assured that howsoever your natural human curiosity compels you there is not a single reason to be found for seeking out and watching Let Me In, the English-language remake of Tomas Alfredson's Kermode Award-winning Let the Right One In.

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    Comment number 1.

    The important thing is that the remake is done well enough that people who do not like foreign language films will get to experience the story. To say that the original is a story about children that happened to feature vampires, and the remake is a vampire film that happens to have children, hey, it's a good line, but it isn't true. I went to see Let Me In just for the sneer, to see how badly they had bungled it (a la Ringu and The Ring) but was relieved and impressed at how well it had been remade. It's a genuine remake, the heart and soul of the original is present, so what are you complaining about? Even the CGI is restrained by Hollywood standards, although Abby did look like a bloodthirsty Gollum in the first sequence. I agree that things that are hinted at in the original are spelled out too obviously at times in the remake, but somehow, my enjoyment survived this. You sound more concerned about the audience this is aimed at (people who don't like foreign language films) than the integrity of the story in the remake, Mark. Silly man.

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    Comment number 2.

    I have seen the remake and the original. And to respond to those people who say: 'what if I haven't seen the original, will I get anything out of it?' The answer is no because actually it's a very disappointing film as a whole. Because Reeves wants to distance himself from the original in some areas he incorporates the idea of the detective, which becomes too heavily involved in the plot. In the original you had the town drunks who were beautifully woven into the main storyline and tension between Oskar and Eli. Here the detective's discovery takes away so much from that love story between, this time Owen and Abby, that the film becomes a muddled mess and is not sure which story to tell.

    As a result all the subtle, romantic moments from the original have to be spelled out to the audience which is toe curling and uncomfortable. If there is one point where it improves or matches the original it is in the performance of Richard Jenkins, who tries to add pathos to a bad script, he is the only subtle thing about this film which otherwise feels the need to point at every emotion with a large neon sign. He's a great actor, the film is not very good.

    If there is a reason for it to exist, it is to turn those who haven't seen the original to go and seek it out. Other than that it is entirely pointless.

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    Comment number 3.

    I haven't seen Let The Right One In, but I have just bought the DVD a little later.

    I saw Dr. K. at the Cheltenham Lit Festival and he mentioned that he wasn't interested in casual film criticism and used Let The Right One In/Let Me In as an example - that is, he's not really interested in anyone's opinion on Let Me In unless they've seen the original, and I agree with him completely. A remake, more often than not, nullifies the context of the original and to not see the original is effectively to miss half of the movie.

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    Comment number 4.

    Dr. K.,

    In the same way that you are concerned about Let Me In, I am concerned about the remake of Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I think the Swedish original was intelligent and elegant. The only primary flaw seems to be that it was a great movie not filmed in English.

    Why is it that when a great film is not made in English, Hollywood feels a need to churn out a copy that is? Quite frankly, the idea of having Daniel Craig running around attempting a Swedish accent (which will inevitably make everything he says sound like "bork") does not impress me.

    The way I see it, Hollywood's remakes of non-English films is just a steam-rollering of local film industries and is a poor practice born out of a lack of originality in the mainstream industry.


    Dr. A.

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    Comment number 5.

    I haven't seen the remake so I direct this question to those who have:

    In the original, there is a very uncomfortable moment in which you see Eli's private parts as she gets dressed in Oskar's house: the camera lingers on it for at least 2 seconds, but it's quite clear. Indeed, there is a subtle and unspoken sexual tension between Eli and Oskar, but it's dealt with so well and so delicately. (The moment Eli and Oskar share a bed springs to mind though it could have other innocent undertones of belonging, loneliness).

    Considering that we are dealing with young children in this film, I was just wondering if there is anything so hard-edged as this moment in the remake. Would I be correct in deducing it was a sanitised Americanised retelling, with all the hard edges blunted? If so then it is indeed pointless.

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    Comment number 6.

    Hi Mark,
    I agree wholeheartedly with everything I’ve just listened to.
    I first heard about Let the Right One In about two/three years ago through a Swedish girl I was flat sharing with. Let Me In first came to my attention while I was browsing through this years London Film Festival catalogue. I got about three sentences into the review when the word re-make came up. My eyes rolled, I thought pointless, I’m not interested and there is no good reason for Let the Right One In to be remade and when onto read other reviews of original films. People justify re-makes of foreign language films into the English language by saying “oh, but more people will know about the original and therefore it gets more publicity.” Wrong! Many more people might hear about the original but the top and bottom of why this film (and many others before it) are remade in the first place is because people are (a) lazy and (b) will not give anything that’s a bit different from what they are used to a chance. Take for example Mostly Martha (the German language original) a perfectly fine film, absolutely nothing wrong with it. But it was remade (in English) starring Catherine Zeta Jones. I didn’t see the re-make (and if I’m honest can’t even remember the name they gave it) the carbon copy front cover picture on the DVD made it look like a ghastly parody and I had the same response to this as I had to Let Me In. My point is, the biggest reason I won’t be seeing Let Me In is for the same reason, I’m not interested because it’s just not interesting.

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    Comment number 7.

    I don't think Let the Right One In was actually a film about children, who happened to be vampires, I think it was a film about a child and a vampire. It was wonderful, but in a creepy and frightening way. For me there was a distinction between the two characters, and Eli was as much a seducer as Dracula, tempting Oskar over to her side. And in the end, when you realise Oskar is doomed to the same fate as Håkan, the film did feel like classic horror. I'm sure Eli was lonely, but that just makes her all the more scary, as she's prepared to steal away little boys to keep her company! Great film though, I'm glad Hammer is back but I doubt I'll bother watching this remake

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    Comment number 8.

    I've seen 'Let the Right One In' and I loved it. I have no intention of seeing the remake. Ever.

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    Comment number 9.

    Ha ha. I still liked it okay.

    Though honestly, given a choice, I wouldn't watch either.

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    Comment number 10.

    @Amber:

    Though honestly, given a choice, I wouldn't watch either.

    ???

    Come on. If you are going to blithely assert that "Possession" is about divorce, you are going to have to do better than that about LTROI. Explain yourself! :-)

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    Comment number 11.

    I did a silly thing on first watching Let The Right one in. I'd had an awful week at work,I was tired,irritable, and watched it late on a Friday evening when my mind set was not where it should have been, hence I didn't quite get to grips with it first time around.However that was soon put to rights on a second viewing,and as a result I have absolutely no desire to see the English language re-make. Though I have to say I thought Kodi Smit-McPhee was dynamite in The Road.Few re-makes really work, however I did enjoy The Hills have Eyes ...:-)

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    Comment number 12.

    Quite right, The Good Doctor. Quite right. This whole project has been utterly disrespectful from the outset. You want to honour the original? Then throw your marketing and distribution budget *behind* the original.

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    Comment number 13.

    I went to see the ramke this week and thought it was a real shame. I am a huge fan of the original and i have infact just bought my second copy of the dvd because of some rather nice new packaging it has come in.

    I am also however a huge fan of the book and when Matt Reeves promised some elements from the book which are very interesting my interest was raised from -1 to 1.

    I went to see it only to find out that those new elements were only perhaps 30 seconds long and all the things that worked were the same as the original, pepperd with some awful, awful CGI moments and missing a very important shot from the original i do not even consider it second best. If you want second best watch the original with dubbing.

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    Comment number 14.

    I watched Let The Right One In on Blu Ray this week. It's the third time I've seen the film (once in the cinema and twice at home) and during this most recent viewing it actually brought me to tears. It was one of the (many) scenes where Oskar simply raises his hand and presses it against his/a window. A gesture signifying the separation between his own world and that of Eli's; the separation between him and her, and to highlight his isolation and loneliness. A running theme analysed here:
    http://let-the-right-one-in.com/woofy/hands/Hands.html
    I am yet to see Let Me In, but remain doubtful that it can equal such moments of understatement and beauty.
    I understand that some folk may not be totally taken with subtitled movies, but surely the location of the original movie plays a large part in it's otherworldlyness (for want of a better word).
    Can anyone confirm where Let Me In is based?

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    Comment number 15.

    Hollywood is the real vampire, leeching ideas from the past and other cultures instead of trying them out themselves. They don't understand that its foriegness is part of why it works, like when we got to see all those Japanese ghost stories through Western eyes a few years ago. The original was set in a place where it looked like this kind of thing could actually happen.

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    Comment number 16.

    You'd think people would have learnt their lesson with the Ring remake. It's my own fault, I went in with an open mind but just like The Ring, Let Me In just doesn't match up and manages to cock up the final set piece in the swimming pool. I'm not angry just disappointed.

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    Comment number 17.

    Maybe it's time us Brits got involved. How about an English version loosely based upon the US version, but now set in the East end of London? Sign Ritchie up for directorial duties and.. bosh! Let the 'Awight One In.
    [ahem]

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    Comment number 18.

    @Joel: Sorry, I just meant that, while I didn't think either version was terrible and the overall premise was interesting, neither made me feel like I'd ever have need to see them again.

    I can understand the whole thing about LTROI fans falling to their knees and screaming GRAAAAAAAAAAHHHH UNNECESSARY!!! but honestly, I don't really care that the remake happened as I was never really attached to the original to begin with. I found the remake perfectly watchable, there were things about it that worked a lot better for me and things that worked worse. But in the end, while both were decent distractions, I basically forgot about them after. Crotch shot or no crotch shot. :P

    I agree with Mr_Jellyfish though, that Let the Right One in is a film about a child and a vampire, not about children. Never did I get the impression that Eli was just a child, so I think Kermode is wrong in that regard.

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    Comment number 19.

    Knowing how much Mark loved the original Swedish masterpiece, I was really looking forward to this review!
    In a way, it's all rather predictable, but sometimes predictability is good and makes you feel safe.
    Here is my review by the way: http://wp.me/p19wJ2-1E

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    Comment number 20.

    Dear Mark

    Stop comparing. It's like someone who gets a new girlfriend and can't help but constantly compare her to the old one. It doesn't matter whether he thinks she was better: WE NEED TO KNOW HOW GOOD THIS ONE IS IN RELATION TO ITSELF AND NOTHING ELSE.

    Your dislike for it seems to come from the fact that it's a remake. it's fine to say 'Let Me In is good, but Let the Right One In is so much better, and if you had to pick one to watch then i feel the original is definitely the one to go for' but to not even admit to the merits of the remake/re-imagining/retelling of the new version is to demean a fine film that, whilst being derivative (a negative, sure), is nowhere NEAR as bad as what you're making it out to be.

    You say that some scenes are shot for shot...like that is somehow enough to destroy the integrity of a film? Take the remake of psycho. A film that is considered a classic and was remade virtually shot for shot. Was it good? No. It was god awful. Showing that a remake, even if it is shot for shot, can be dire. So criticising Let Me In on an account of this does not stand in the slightest.

    You sound blighted by personal offence, and that as a result you want people to find it almost tasteless?

    When there is such dross out there a film crafted as beautifully as Let Me In is a good way to spend two hours of our precious time. I'm aware that i just made a comparison; but only to express a preference. Not to cement a dislike.

 

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