Thursday, April 19, 2012

After Thoughts...Let Me In [2010] (spoilers)


With its inclusion of vampires, a casual observer would probably just place this movie alongside the likes of the Twilight series and True Blood, not giving the movie another thought.  And with its release coming on the eve of so many other lackluster vampire flicks geared toward a primarily tween girl audience, many people may fail to notice the sophistication of Reeve’s film.  On top of that, the close ties this movie has with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet may also be missed.  In both stories, we have a young couple who try and love in each other under the most restrained and unforgiving of circumstances.  Their familial backgrounds squander any hope for friendship, let alone true love.  And despite these similarities, Romeo and Juliet and Let Me In each portray true love through two very different scopes, yet both can be called true love.
The love that occurs in Romeo and Juliet happens very suddenly in a “love at first sight” scenario.  Given their respective backgrounds, neither Romeo nor Juliet knew the other existed until the night of the Capulet party when Romeo first laid eyes on Juliet, which results in instant infatuation.  This sequence occurs in Act I Scene V at the Capulet house during the party of which Romeo attends without invitation.  When he first sees Juliet with Paris he is immediately struck by her beauty.  And for that matter, Romeo’s first comments about Juliet (although at this point, he doesn’t even know her name) are geared towards her gorgeous looks- “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright...Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear... Beauty too rich for use.”  He goes as far as question all of his prior judgments of love- “Did my heart love till now?”  Without evening talking to her, Romeo is certain he has found true love- mind you, all this happens within minutes of Romeo first laying eyes on Juliet.  As quickly as it all happens, Romeo’s infatuation with her turns into true love.  When discovering they are part of a long existing family feud, they defy their names and lovers.
Owen and Abby’s love does not come this easily.  Unlike with Romeo and Juliet, there is no indication that any sort of relationship will arise from the first meeting between Owen and Abby.  Abby’s first words to Owen create immediate distance between them.  “I can’t be your friend,” she tells him.  After a few moments of awkward silence, she walks away.  Owen upset by the statement informs her that he doesn’t even want to be her friend.  He ends by mumbling “idiot,” referring to Abby.  This could not be farther from love at first sight, and for that matter, their interaction comes off as the complete opposite of Romeo and Juliet’s first meeting.
But regardless of how it starts, Owen and Abby develop a relationship equally as deep and as loving as what exists between Romeo and Juliet, arguably the most quintessential couple to ever be created.  What occurs between both couples is true love, but for each comes different reasons.  Romeo and Juliet want to love each other very badly. They have such strong feelings for each other that when Romeo is faced with a life without Juliet thinking she is dead on her tomb, he kills himself.  In a similar way, Owen and Abby want to love each other too.  But this desire exists between any young couple in love.  However, what is as equally strong as this desire is the fact that the two of them need each other to survive their daunting and miserable lives, seen especially by Owen.
Throughout the story, Owen is portrayed to be a loner with no friends.  He tells Abby of a friend he once had, but the boy moved away.  He constantly gets bullied and harassed by kids at school and his parents, who Reeve’s never lets us see, offer no help to the persistent bullying.  From what we see, the audience can assume that this problem has been going on for some time.  And there looks to be no end in sight for his problems, until he meets Abby.  She is the one who teaches him to fight back against the bullies.   Although he gets in trouble for whacking the bully in the ear, Abby is the only person in the movie that offers any help to the bullying- more than even his parents.  Even more so than the payback, their relationship gives Owen a friend when he had none.  Their relationship is not based on looks or lust; the two of them just enjoy each other’s company.  Above anything, their friendship gives Owen a sense of happiness, an emotion we can assume doesn’t come by him very often.  In the same way, the love they form a similar emptiness we find in Abby, the 12 year old vampire in our world.
The most romantic scene between the two (at least in my opinion), comes not when Abby lies next to Owen naked in bed, mind you no sex comes of it.  Instead, their romance is best communicated in a simple note from Abby that the police inspector finds lying on the ground of Owen’s apartment. In it is a line that reads- “Want to hang out with me again tonight?  I really like you.”  Their relationship is as simple as that.  The love that exists between them is true love, just as Romeo and Juliet’s.   But unlike theirs, it is not based on looks and infatuation as much as it is on dependability and companionship- two aspects of a relationship that run much deeper in the restraining lives of young lovers.


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