Ali Abbasi’s Border follows the story of a border agent who uses her ability to sense or smell human emotions to catch smugglers — but when one man confounds her detection, she’s forced to confront a new reality.
A recent favourite at Cannes, Ali Abbasi’s Border is a stunning, near–note perfect mystery that seamlessly fuses fantasy, social commentary, and psychological insight. The heroine, Tina (Eva Melander), was born with a facial “disfiguration,” a strange scar on her tailbone, and the ability to sense or smell how people feel. She’s especially adept at detecting fear or unease.
These skills make her invaluable as a border guard. But her latest two attempted busts are more troubling than the usual routine arrests of pimply teenagers smuggling booze. First, there’s the twitchy businessman who turns out to be carrying child pornography. His crime so enrages Tina that she begins to take foolish risks when she’s brought in to help with the investigation. Then there’s the suspicious Vore (Eero Milonoff, who played the desperate manager in The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki), who shares physical traits with Tina, and has a cocksure smirk that never leaves his face. It’s a look suggesting he knows things Tina doesn’t, knowledge that may disrupt her life completely.
Based on a short story by Let the Right One In author John Ajvide Lindqvist, Border conjures up memories of unsettling folk tales, suggesting a time when we were closer to the natural world and its odder anomalies, a world that now seems distant while feeling creepily familiar. Border is an eerie, unforgettable, and affecting work.