The title Border implies the edge of a domain, the boundary of a set, and the primary setting of customs highlights how difficult it can be to move between those domains as the controllers of the domain control the departures and arrivals. Superficially this is Sweden customs control, but also humans policing and protecting their species from strange others, and - I believe - majority groups’ and cultures’ control over what is “normal”; hearing people’s control over deafness.
This movie is about Deaf people in what hearing people despicably like to call the “Hearing World”.
I wanted Border to be just this, but there is a further unavoidable aspect to it: Vore, it turns out, supplies young children to a human paedophile ring that Tina/Reva has been helping the police uncover using her heightened sensory abilities. We learn that Vore’s (troll) parents were taken and experimented upon in a psychiatric hospital where they died prematurely, and that he was passed between orphanages and serially abused. Although Vore’s choices are definitely abhorrent and inexcusable, it is nevertheless the case that sexual abusers are more likely to have been abused themselves, and oppressed minorities are exploited in many ways including this. By demonising a minority we create within that minority those very demons. Vore’s is a timely and cautionary tale when we continue to turn against groups we consider to be other.
The highest achievement of this brave and unsettling film is the final scene when Reva feeds a troll baby that we must assume is hers and Vore’s. Despite being frighteningly other-worldly, with soft dark hair on its face, a heavy brow, and unsettling expression, and despite the fact that Reva feeds it insects, the audience feels delight and love rather than revulsion. Just as we can feel such warmth and understanding to a fictional troll child, so hearing people should be able to understand the wonder felt by a Deaf couple with a profoundly deaf baby.
Perhaps then we can embrace diversity in its truest and widest sense instead of moulding and cutting individuals to conform to an - equally fictional - normal.