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AFF: A Canadian Legend and Let Me In 

Pinsent soothes, vampire film disturbs

Gordon Pinsent has one of those voices you'd love to have reading your kids (or you) bedtime stories. Deep, gentle and soulful, a warm fireplace of a vocal that's enjoyable just to bask in.

I had the pleasure of basking in Pinsent-glow this afternoon. The Newfoundland-born actor is in town to introduce tonight's screening of Away From Her (7:10, Park Lane 4), the 2006 film by Sarah Polley about a marriage ripped apart by Alzheimer's and the opening of old wounds.

Pinsent strikes a gently powerful pose
  • Pinsent strikes a gently powerful pose

"It's a special piece, as I look back now," said Pinsent of the chance to revisit the film.

He's not kidding. Away From Her is one of the most wrenching and real weepies I've ever seen, with Pinsent and Julie Christie giving brilliant performances as the two halves of the aging couple. What's always astonished me is that Polley, who was 27, was able to put together such an insightful film about people, and a relationship, in the latter stages of life.

Pinsent said it was no less amazing to watch Polley on set.

"I just stood back and watched. It was quite something. I had seen this girl and known her family for many years, and suddenly there was this child, at 27, taking this thing on.

"She wanted to get a few things answered, she said. And I knew by the time this film was out that she'd answered a lot of her questions. How does marriage come apart? When does it? And under a situation like this, where Alzheimer's is implanted within it, what goes on? She answered that, but she asked it through the entire film."

As for Pinsent himself, the hale and hearty-looking 80-year-old just keeps on working, with appearances in TV shows like Republic of Doyle and The Pillars of Earth. But he's still being selective - he recently turned down an offer to appear in a horror movie where the body count is made up of people of a certain age, rather than oversexed youth.

"A house full of old people getting their heads blown off is not my idea of...I said no, thank you very much," Pinsent recalled, laughing.

So no horror movies for Pinsent. For (lucky) me, though, this afternoon brought a chance to see Let Me In, an American take on the Swedish film about a young girl - who happens to be a vampire - befriending a bullied 12-year-old boy.

I went in hopeful but worried, feeling the original was pretty sacred. But hope turned out to be justified. Some things don't match up well with the Swedish version, which was a masterpiece of silent, gory artistry. By comparison, the remake turns the volume knob up a little too high in the bloody scenes and rarely lets any scene go by without musical accompaniment. But the actors, especially Chloe Grace Moretz as the young vampire, are excellent.

More importantly, writer-director Matt Reeves stays true to the overall tone of the original. That tone, more than anything, mournful. Each of the characters in Let Me In, living and undead, is profoundly sad and isolated, and this is what helps both the Swedish and American versions rise above the usual horror fare. The movies aren't necessarily terrifying, but they leave your soul cold.

You can get that chilly feeling at Let Me In's midnight screening on Friday (midnight, Oxford Theatre).

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