Lilya 4-Ever

Swedish director Lukas Moodysson revealed an uncanny insight into the heart and soul of a troubled teenage girl in his debut feature, SHOW ME LOVE. In his brilliant third film — his best to date — Moodysson broadens his scope to weave a simple, heartbreaking tale of crushed adolescence into a larger fable about the broken promise of contemporary...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Swedish director Lukas Moodysson revealed an uncanny insight into the heart and soul of a troubled teenage girl in his debut feature, SHOW ME LOVE. In his brilliant third film — his best to date — Moodysson broadens his scope to weave a simple, heartbreaking tale of crushed adolescence into a larger fable about the broken promise of contemporary Russia. The setting is a rusting Estonian suburb, a ruined landscape of depopulated Stalin-era housing blocs that mutely rebuke the glory of both the U.S.S.R. and post-Soviet era. It's a cold, dreary place, and 16-year-old Lilya (the extraordinary young Russian actress Oksana Akinshina) is thrilled to be leaving: Lilya's mother (Ljubov Agapova) and her boyfriend (Tonu Kark) are emigrating to the United States. Lilya's 11-year-old friend, Volodya (Artiom Bogucharskij), begs her to take him with her, but the morning they're scheduled to leave, Lilya's mother announces that Lilya won't be going with them — they'll send for her once they're settled. The moment mom's out the door, Lilya's Aunt Anna (Lilia Shinkareva) shows up to claim the relatively spacious apartment for herself, and moves Lilya and her few possessions — including her print of an beatific blond guardian angel that will become the film's ironic central motif — into a rancid flat in a crumbling building. Left alone, with little money and no phone, Lilya still goes to school each morning and whiles away the empty afternoons with Volodya, sniffing glue and hanging out at the abandoned submarine factory where he's lived since his father threw him out. But as the weeks pass without a word from her mother, Lilya must face a terrible truth: She's been abandoned. Lilya's school friend, Natasha (Elina Beninson), suggests they turn tricks for cash at a local bar, and there Lilya meets her white knight, Andrei (Pavel Ponomarev), who promises to whisk her away to Sweden, where good jobs and affordable housing are plenty. So with a fake passport in hand and all the courage she can muster, Lilya says goodbye to Volodya and Russia, and journeys forth into a bright future that proves worse than she could ever have imagined. What sounds like an unremittingly bleak picture of youth in extremis is, oddly enough, filled with sweetness, humor and hope. Akinshina and Bogucharskij are remarkable together, and Moodysson once again demonstrates a sophisticated visual skill matched only by his innate understanding of the adolescent heart.

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  • Released: 2002
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Swedish director Lukas Moodysson revealed an uncanny insight into the heart and soul of a troubled teenage girl in his debut feature, SHOW ME LOVE. In his brilliant third film — his best to date — Moodysson broadens his scope to weave a simple, h… (more)

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