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Alicia Keys’ ‘Let Me In’: A potent cry for mercy both human and divine

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A provocative and effective short film is a Lent-worthy meditation.

There’s a hole in my heart I’ve been hiding
I’ve been strong for so long that I’m blind
Is there a place I can go where the lonely river flows?
Where fear ends and faith begins

Back in 2016, Alicia Keys recorded this chilling song called “Hallelujah,” — not to be confused with Leonard Cohen’s popular track of the same name. Keys’ song is a heartfelt cry for mercy that was made all the more potent by a short film, Let Me In, for which the tune was written. The hook is wildly catchy and will play in your head all day.

The video Let Me In depicts a regular Californian family suddenly drawn into an armed conflict. A young girl’s life is torn asunder as she and her family become separated and she is forced to make the trek with strangers to Mexico, where arriving refugees are met with protests. The role reversal was meant to emphasize that refugees are just normal people fleeing abhorrent circumstances and must be treated with the same mercy and dignity as any other.

Keys did an excellent job setting the atmosphere for Let Me In with a desperate melody around a prayer for salvation. We especially liked the weariness of her intonations, meant to reflect the somber themes of a fearful journey and the loss of hope. Alicia released a statement explaining what drew her to the project:

“I was stunned when I learned that there are more refugees living in the world today than at any other point in history, and half of them are children,” Keys said in a statement. “Creating this film really allowed us to imagine, what if we were the refugees? What if we were the ones torn from the arms of our families and loved ones? How would it feel if this were happening to us?”

Director Jonathan Olinger spoke to Rolling Stone about the work:

“The intention behind Let Me In is to bring the struggles of refugees and displaced people into a relatable context,” Olinger said. “I hope the film leaves people asking the simple question: What if it was us? And that it ultimately blurs the lines between ‘us’ and ‘them’ — as we are all human.”

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