The Dark Friendship of Oskar and Eli in "Let the Right One In"
It's been years since I've first seen this film and I still think about it every now and again. I suppose that's what makes it one of my most favorite movies.
I talked about Oskar a week or two ago and doing that got my mind rolling around about Let the Right One In all over again. It's been years since I've first seen this film and I still think about it every now and again. I suppose that's what makes it one of my most favorite movies. Thinking about Oskar, I obviously had to turn my thoughts to Eli. I made mention in the previous article how I sensed something dark in her friendship with Oskar. Now, I won't deny that there is something sweet about their relationship. They're both people who are invisible for their own reasons who found each other. They bonded over that and their relationship builds from there. However, as I think more Eli and the circumstances around her friendship with Oskar, I can't help think that perhaps there are darker things to come as Oskar and Eli's relationship develop after the end of the movie.
In order to talk about Eli and Oskar, however, I first have to talk about another relationship, Eli and Håkan.
The movie gives no background to their relationship. It's assumed that they move around a lot and he plays the part of the father in every town they live in. How they met and why he agreed to do such sinister things for Eli isn't spelled out like it is in the book but it is definitely hinted on especially in the scene above. After asking Eli not to see Oskar, at least for that night, Eli comforts him by touching his cheek. His reaction to her touch has heavy implications on how he actually views Eli and how it is that Eli can get him to find "food" for her. I saw this particular scene as showcasing Eli's ability to perceive certain things in people and how she plays to the what she sees in order to get what she wants. She's an immortal being in the body of a child. Even if she is stronger than most grown men, she does need some help. There is definitely an air of manipulation in their relationship but not one where Håkan is being forced into servitude out of fear. He's shown to be quite devoted to Eli to the point where he even sacrifices his own face to protect her and it's this twisted form of love that Eli relied on for who knows how many years. Once she moves to a new apartment complex though, she meets a new potential companion in Oskar.
When Eli first meets Oskar, he's outside stabbing a tree with his knife pretending that it's his bully, Connie. He says the same things that are spouted at him at school and his fervor slowly intensifies before he notices that someone is watching. This meeting seems innocuous (and a bit awkward for Oskar) at first but it comes back later on in the film.
Eli: I'm like you.
Oskar: What do you mean?
Eli: What are you staring at? Well? Are you looking at me? Scream! Squeal! Those were the first words I heard you say.
Oskar: I don't kill people.
Eli: But you'd like to if you could. To get revenge. Right?
Eli goes on to explain that she kills because she has to and asks Oskar to "be me a little" so he could understand where she was coming from. I think that Eli already knew that Oskar would understand. Even if their meeting was innocent at first, she more than likely saw something in him that he didn't quite see himself. As Eli reveals herself fully to Oskar and their friendship develops, the seeds of Oskar's devotion to her are slowly being planted. These seeds show their first fruit when Lacke breaks into Eli's apartment in an attempt to kill her. He first seriously contemplates using his knife to kill Lacke in order to defend Eli but instead yells out to warn her. In the violence that ensues, he doesn't run away but chooses to stay in the apartment instead.
The next morning Oskar is confronted by Connie and his older brother Jimmy at the pool. Jimmy tells Oskar that he has to hold his breath for three minutes or he's going to cut his eyes out. He then proceeds to hold Oskar underwater and very nearly drowns him. This is when Eli comes in and slaughters them all save one person. There is no fear in Oskar's eyes as he surfaces from the water, there's only relief and gratitude that Eli pulled off the revenge that he'd always fantasized about. It was at that point, I believe, that Oskar's devotion to Eli was fully and completely realized. The movie then closes with Oskar on a train with Eli safely tucked away in a large trunk.
Before Oskar met Eli, he was alone and invisible. He felt worthless and was tossed around at school with seemingly no means of escape. Once Eli appears in his life, she becomes more than just his friend, she becomes his savior. That's why I believe that Eli chose Oskar. She saw someone that was invisible by default rather than design. She saw someone who needed an out and she knew that he would be absolutely devoted to the person that could give him that saving grace.