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Tomas Alfredson Says There Is "Something Dishonest" About Matt Reeves' 'Let Me In' Remake

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by Kevin Jagernauth
February 27, 2012 12:18 PM
19 Comments
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Last we heard from Tomas Alfredson, he was relatively cool with Matt Reeves' "Let Me In," a remake of the director's cult hit "Let The Right One In." “I haven’t seen it,” Alfredson told us in December. “It was a little disturbing when I first heard about it because I think I was still working on marketing my own version. So it was a little quick. It’s a very personal thing to be working with a book for several years. You think it’s your own and you fight for it a lot and then to be hearing about someone else dancing with your girlfriend, it’s strange. But I heard that it’s a good film and that they did a great job, so it’s no hard feelings. I will see it." But it seems his feelings on the matter may have hardened a bit.

The Wall Street Journal recently caught up with the director and when asked about Reeves' film, his words had a considerable edge. "I think that there's something dishonest about copying someone's work. I think it's much stronger if you do something personal of your own that's original," Alfredson said, although there is no indication he has seen the movie yet.

It's a bit rich coming from Alfredson, who earned deserved critical acclaim for "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," itself already made in the celebrated 1979 BBC series starring Sir Alec Guiness. Of course, Alfredson doesn't consider his film a remake saying, "There are so many ways to tell the same story with so many different approaches." That's a flexibility he doesn't seem to give to Reeves, whose "Let Me In" arguably improves on Alfredson's film (and it should be noted, both films are actually based on the book by John Ajvide Lindqvist).

Anyhow, with the Oscar race now over, we'd like to suggest to Alfredson that he give "Let Me In" a spin before sounding off about it any more -- he might be pleasantly surprised.

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19 Comments

  • mikie | June 17, 2012 9:13 PMReply

    written and directed by matt reeves,,what a bunch of shit.reeves is a hack who copys someone elses work,even on its own merit theres nothin special,the scenes between the kids are a mirror image of the original and thats what the film is about a relationship,but in let me in i didnt feel any real connection between eli and oscar where as in let the right one in i could feel the bond between eli and oscar i thought they were soulmates,all thats lost in the american remake.i think the kids in let me in didnt realy understand there characters as there preformances are flat and i think reeves couldnt direct them another sign reeves is a second rate director,let the right one in is a film that doesnt come along very often, original and unique.theres no reason for let me in to exist when we have let the right one in

  • Glass | February 28, 2012 1:43 PMReply

    To me, this doesn't get much simpler than the fact that Let Me In isn't remaking his movie, it's based on the same novel as his. You have to take these kinds of comments with a grain of salt because there's a built-in resentment towards "Hollywood" directors from Swedes because they have more money to do cooler shit. The whole Dragon Tattoo debate always boiled down to, "Well, if we had the big Hollywood budget Fincher did, it would've been even better than this useless remake."

  • Daniel | February 29, 2012 4:27 PM

    Have you read the novel and seen both films???

    Because I have...I've read the novel and seen both films...and at the end of the day, Let Me In was far closer to the original film adaptation then it was to the Novel. Structually speaking it copies nearly everything that the original film did whilst throwing a few small touches from the novel in there (Owen's candy addiction and the Opening Scene are about the only two major things from the book it throws in)

    Everything else is far closer to that original film then it is the novel. Even right down to Music and Scene choices. For instance, there is that scene after Eli shows Oskar what happens if not invited in. The one where Oskar plays her his favourite piece of music and just so happens to peep in on her giving the audience a vital clue as to Eli's true gender. That scene is almost directly copied in Let Me In in both shot setup and Music choices (The Breakup Song sounds a little close to the original song they used in the same scene in LTROI)

    To me, that isn't going back to the book and finding a new way to approach it...that is directly copying what came before. At the end of the day, LMI is a solid film, but its biggest flaw is that it was FAR too faithful to the original film and never truly deviated itself...it screamed of "Look at Me, I can do that too"

  • Daniel | February 27, 2012 10:15 PMReply

    Actually Alfredson is right...there was so much about Let Me In that screamed of being far too faithful to the original film that it seemed they (Reeves and Co) themselves knew why they shouldn't have made it.

    I think the only thing Let Me In was take some of the subtext (such as the Morality play or the "Grooming" theory) and simply bought it to the forefront.

    Sure on the surface there is a difference, but a lot of that stuff could still be found in the underlining of the original film...leaving one to think, why bother???

    I don't hate Let Me In...but I think its far too faithful to the original film that it kind of became a "Me Too" copy

    As for TTSS...I think there is enough to seperate it from the terrific Alec Guiness version. When I watch Alfredson's TTSS, I never felt like I was watching the 1979 mini series...rather I was watching this story through Alfredson's eyes.

    Where as LMI...it felt like I was watching LTROI through the eyes of a fanboy who knew what made the original good and decided to stick closely to it in fear off retaliation from the hardcore fanbase it had.

    I think Let Me In is solid, but ultimately it screams off "Me Too"

  • Robb | February 27, 2012 7:03 PMReply

    First off I'll start by saying that i loved Let the Right One In. Its now one of my favorite films and I am highly protective of it, including what Magnolia did to the english translation vs what was shown on the festival circuit. However, Let Me In, does in someways improve on LTROI, but it doesnt make it an equal movie. You also cant replace the first exposure to a story that you have, it makes the narrative more intense. The set pieces and the special effects are far superior in Matt Reeves movie and in terms of filmmaking that is an obvious improvement, but the empathy and sadness that permeates Let the Right One in, is just something so affecting that Reeves and his actors who are quite good especially the Richard jenkins character (which does improve the film) are behind the swedish kids who are just so perfect. Most people in this thread would love Let Me In if they had never seen Let the Right One In.

  • Caon | November 1, 2013 10:47 PM

    My friend, did you pay attention to Kare's acting at all? His performance brought down the movie a peg. I think the acting in Let Me In is far superior all around, the only good actors in Let The Right One In, or the only ones worth mentioning are Lina (Eli) and Per (Hakan). I thought Lina was brilliant as Eli, and so was Hakan, but the thing that was missing in the original version that the remake improved on was that you connected with every character. I think Let Me In was a bit darker. Let Me In was more tragic for me, and a bit more beautiful. Let Me In was much more realistic to me, how everything happened and how the characters reacted to certain things

  • nechoplex | February 27, 2012 5:19 PMReply

    With all due respect, where exactly does Let Me In improve on Let The Right One In? It doesn't in my opinion. I've never understood why a lot of critics seem to think so highly of Let Me In. It's a fine film, but it fails to adequately convey and capture the sense of loss, innocence, love, fright and tenderness that Let The Right One In did so beautifully.

    And even if you look at Let Me In objectively and without considering the original, what you get is an average vampire tale that doesn't quite hit the mark. The only thing that film improves on the original is in the score department.

  • cmfireflies | February 27, 2012 2:38 PMReply

    Something dishonest? How about an outright lie? Reeves had said in at least one interview that the reason the two films were similar was only because they were based on the same source material. Nevermind that Let Me In had scenes that only existed in the first film and not in the book. Nevermind that a major character's motivation from the book was completely scraped to be more in line with the ambiguity of "Let the Right One In"

    I guess anything can be "arguably better" than anything else, but there are videos interviews that prove Reeves is more than "a little dishonest"

  • Jeff | February 27, 2012 1:41 PMReply

    Alfredson took used the same source material on Tinker Tailor, but made a wholly original film in his own style. I think that the elisions that were necessary to bring it to feature length worked brilliantly, and he was able to convey so much through montage. I think it's ultimately an even better film than the Guinness original, and John Le Carre agrees with me. He's said he thinks that is by far the best adaptation of his work.

    Matt Reeves version of Let the Right One In is not a wholly original take on the source material. It's a very close remake of Alfredson's film, borrowing much of his visual style. It has some changes and a couple of great setpieces of its own to be sure, but is not substantially different from Alfredson's film.

    I like both versions of both films very much, but comparing the two scenarios is terribly silly, as they're not even remotely similar.

  • Nolan | February 27, 2012 1:12 PMReply

    It's fairly easy to "improve" when you have a complete visual template already set out for you to ape. "Let Me In" wasn't the nightmare I expected, it's just the same movie made more obvious and using a different color scheme.

  • Jamie Paisley | February 27, 2012 12:57 PMReply

    While, I personally am fine with Let Me In as a remake, I find it stretching to call it arguably better. I found myself angry at how often Reeves warmed the screen over with oranges and ambers. Betraying the stark, bleak story within. In a nutshell (Hey, what am I doing in this bloody great nutshell?) Alfredson's has that re-watchable element Reeve's doesn't.
    In addition, I just saw the Guinness [Note the spelling, btw] version this past weekend at the behest of a co-worker & retired CBS film reviewer. Alas, I found not much extra meat in the 1979 version, as opposed to the 2012 one. With two exceptional differences: 1) the "Ann scene" which caps the Guinness Smiley's story, which I found unnecessary, as this is resolutely George's story. & 2) It was 6 hours long, as opposed to the lean, and I daresay more tense, 2 hours & 7 minutes Alfredson version.

  • Christopher Bell | February 27, 2012 12:57 PMReply

    I agree with Sam and Hannah. I couldn't get through "Let Me In." Not saying "Let The Right In" was the most subtle movie ever, but Reeves pushed so hard to clear everything up that it felt very phony (thanks Holden). It's too dramatic and could've used some pulling back... but that said, it's definitely not an awful film. Just not 4 me.

  • Sam | February 27, 2012 12:51 PMReply

    All Matt Reeves did was shoot a nearly shot-for-shot remake. To make it look like he didn't, he shot everything from the opposite side of 'the line' Alfredson did. Weak. I'm shocked no one has called BS on this. Tomas Alfredson made one of the greatest movies ever and America hired a paste-eater to make a cheap knock-off for the rest of mouth breathers too stupid to read subtitles (if you don't believe me, Magnet even dumbed down the subtitles for the American DVD - that's how mentally infirm we've become). Tomas Alfredson should be very, very angry. It's like Harvey Weinstein hired somebody to re-paint the Mona Lisa for Americans. What happened is equally insulting and pointless.

  • KJmarkin | February 27, 2012 12:46 PMReply

    No one and I mean NO ONE disses the almighty Matt Reeves!

  • Hannah | February 27, 2012 12:44 PMReply

    "it arguably improves upon Alfredson's film." Really? I've seen both, the Swedish one first, but I was initially excited when the english version came out because I felt that it had talented actors, and I loved the story so much I was interested to see someone else's spin on it. However, Let Me In is COMPLETELY forgettable. After one viewing of Let the Right One In, there were many moments that stood out to me, such as Eli's attack of the man under the bridge, the woman on fire in the hospital, Oskar hitting the bully in the ear, blood oozing from Eli's pores, and of course, that jaw dropping ending. Just to name a few. As I think back on Let Me In, hardly any scenes come to mind, though I'm sure they were nearly the same as the original. I can't even remember if the ending was the same or not, because the rest of the movie was just so bland. Let Me In in no way improves upon Let the Right One In, it didn't push any boundaries, didn't go far enough. They didn't even question Eli's gender in this one. If they wanted to improve upon the original, they could have gone a step further than even Alfredson did and actually provide Eli's (disturbing) background, which would have left no question as to what Eli's gender really was. Let Me In was no improvement, it was a pathetic, failed attempt.

  • Alan B | November 2, 2013 2:42 AM

    "Oskar hitting the bully in the ear"

    If anyone wants to know the key differences between the two films, you only have to look at the two versions of this scene. In the "original" film, the sequence is emotionally complicated and even challenging. Initially, Alfredson and co. push to elicit sympathy for Oskar, given the cruel "little piggy" taunts of the class bully and the cold, venal way in which the bully tells Oscar that he will push him down. Then, after the act, Alfredson gives us this eerie, completely unexpected reversal: the teacher comforts the bloodied child, and then the director cuts to a close up of Oskar smiling. It's a genuinely chilling moment and challenges our own sympathy towards the protagonist. Johan Söderqvist's score also has a haunting, almost-mythic quality, creating added unease about Oskar's action.

    What does Reeves have up his sleeve in his take? Well, Michael Giacchino hits us over the head with a lame violin-filled score that serves the tension of the discovery of the dead body, not the lead character's emotional state; Reeves films the confrontation completely in static medium close-up/reversal (a super-boring choice compared to the way in which Alfredson mixes the composition up slightly); Owen drops the stick immediately, telling us that "don't worry, he's sorry and sympathetic and remorseful and sympathetic". Moreover, he also films Owen left-to-right, as opposed to the original film.

    Don't get me wrong: there is nothing "bad" or technically incompetent about Reeves' filmmaking or that of his co-workers. There is just nothing very interesting about the sequence, either. I don't know how anyone could compare both scenes and see anything distinct or interesting about the Reeves film. I am not a huge fan of the Alfredson film, but I can see that the film has visual distinction and a complicated lead character, which the other film lacks. Alfredson's filmmaking challenges you; Reeves' comforts you. Frankly, I have no idea how someone could intelligently suggest that Reeves "arguably improves" on the other film, when an educated understanding of filmmaking shows that he clearly doesn't.

  • tristan eldritch | February 27, 2012 12:40 PMReply

    "There are so many ways to tell the same story with so many different approaches."

    Um, yeah, Thomas. Including cutting so much from the source material in order to get it to fit in under two and half hours that the revelation of the story's central mystery becomes completely arbitrary and anti-climatic.

  • Albert | February 27, 2012 1:27 PM

    I hope you're talking about Alfredson's "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy", because that was one of the most incomprehensible, overrated films I've ever seen.

  • Daniel Thron | February 27, 2012 12:31 PMReply

    Loved both Let the Right One In and Let Me In; they are perfectly complimentary films, and I always recommend people see both -- as, though they are only slightly different, they end up being exactly opposite arguments on the nature of love and companionship -- and both are brilliant pieces of moodwork from great directors. The middle ground is taken by the book itself. I remember when they released the DVD for The English Patient with a copy of the book -- I think they should do the same for this -- bookend the book with the two films; then you get the full experience.

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