Archive for March 26, 2019

The Icebox Moment

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on March 26, 2019 by dcairns

We really liked BORDER — even if you’ve had a big spoiler about what’s going on in it and who the lead character really is, you can enjoy it hugely seeing the revelation built up to, and then there are a load of really nice plot twists after that point too.

But this post will unavoidably contain heavy spoilers. It’s all about the ending. STOP NOW if you think you might like to see this really good Scandi-noir fantasy drama by the writer of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.

We had what Hitchcock called an Icebox Moment with the film’s conclusion. Hitch said that you can make a film and have the audience in the palm of your hand, then Audience Member #1 goes home and, as he takes a beer from the icebox, asks himself a key plot question he hadn’t thought of during the film’s fast-paced narrative whirl. Something like, say, “But why didn’t they just go to the police?” In between him selecting his beer and getting the cap off, the whole storyline falls apart in his mind, and the next morning at work when someone at the water cooler asks if that film was any good, he says “No, it was stupid.”

Understand me, though — I still think BORDER is really good.

BUT.

I wanted the fate of the kidnapped human baby to be explained. The kidnapper was caught, but did he have the baby on him or around him, or not? It would be very easy to establish the status of that baby, and it was the main thing we could be expected to care about, to be honest.

The “villain” meets with a fate that would be fatal to most people. And we kind of think, Fair enough, he’s done some very bad things. He’s a damaged individual, you can have some pity for him, but he’s probably best off out of this world for all our sakes. But is he dead?

Earlier in the film we get a hint that he’s very comfortable in water for long periods of time. Clue #1

Clue #2 is that a baby, (not the kidnapped one) is mailed to Tina at the end of the film. The implication seems to be that this is his baby, and so it’s presumably come from him and he’s presumably alive.

The letter with the baby indicates that there are a group of character Tina will now want to seek out. So the letter seems to have come from them, or else he’s with them, which seems the only way to make sense of things. Tina is being invited to join them all. But then, why send her an undocumented baby to look after if they want her to join them in a neighbouring country, since that baby is going to make it very hard for her to travel. In a film that shows her working as a customs officer dealing with smugglers, we can’t be expected to never think of this issue, it’s literally a plot point.

The really big implausibility earlier is when Tina catches a criminal who is trying to smuggle a memory card with images of child porn on it. Which is just crazy, in this modern age. Digital info doesn’t need to be physically carried about to cross borders, and why would you do that when being caught with it would result in a hefty prison sentence? True, many criminals are dumb. But I’ve literally never thought about the best way to smuggle child porn, and these are people who have basically that one thing to think about in their professional lives. By the same logic, though, the filmmakers should have cracked at least some of the issues with the ending, because they had more time to think about it than me.

But, you know, I’m not a plausibilist at heart. It’s a very good film.

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