Show Me Love

The nice thing about watching foreign movies is that usually, they are pretty decent. There are not many foreign films released, so there must be some sort of weeding process. Show Me Love, a Swedish film from Lukas Moodysson, is one of those good films. Wildly popular in its initial release in Sweden, U.S. audiences can finally give it a look-see. Show Me Love is a touching, romance story, infinitely better than the droves of teen movies that are released like mating rabbits. It is a lesbian romance, but that is almost beside the point. The emotions that Elin and Agnes feel, love, anguish, and the alienation of high school are very real.

The Swedish name of this film is Fucking Amal, after the town where the story takes place. It is a small town apparently in the middle of nowhere. Agnes (Rebecca Lilejeberg) and her family moved there one and one half years ago. Rebecca is still considered an outsider. She has no friends, and rumors abound at school that she is a lesbian. The only person she speaks to is another outsider, a wheelchair bound classmate. For her sixteenth birthday, her overbearing mother decides to throw a party. Agnes has a crush on her classmate Elin (Alexandra Dahlstrom), her polar opposite. She is popular, flashy, and part of the 'in' crowd. She lives with her mother and sister Jessica (Erica Carlson) and all they want to do is party and get drunk. The night of Agnes' party, no one shows up, until Elin and Jessica appear at the door. All they want is wine, they could care less about Agnes. As a cruel joke, Jessica dares Elin to kiss Agnes. She does, and they take off. Elin is not a bad person at heart, so she feels a lot of regret for her actions. She goes to apologize, and Agnes and Elin end up talking all night, and kissing. The next day, Elin promptly gets a boyfriend, crushing the feelings of Agnes. However, Elin is still not happy. She has these new feelings that she doesn't know how to deal with. The rest of the film deals with each of the girls and how they deal with their emotions.

Unlike many of the teenybopper movies out today, the characters in Show Me Love are not cliche. The teen stereotypes that seem to be the norm in these movies are shattered here. This film does contain the outsider, the popular girl, and the lesbian, but each character is freethinking individual, whose decisions are not easily predicted. Moodysson shot the film almost documentary style, with frequently grainy images, and a constantly moving camera, zooming in on a person when he or she begins to speak. This is an added sense of realism. The performances by Dahlstrom and Lilejeberg are exemplary. The pain and isolation that Agnes feels is very apparent, as is the dissatisfaction of Elin. She has a boyfriend now, but he is so simple minded. Agnes spoke about her dreams and the future, while everyone in her own crowd was more concerned with boys and fashion.

Another interesting, if not random aspect of this film is observing the influence of American culture on Swedish teens. Posters of Leonardo DiCaprio and Scream adorn the walls of these teenagers. The Backstreet Boys are all the rage. And, since Amal is somewhat in the boonies, Foreigner blares on the radio. So you can conclude that teens in Sweden are similar to teens here. Moodysson crafted an intensely tender story that transcends borders. Even the homosexual issue can be downplayed. This isn't necessarily a movie about being a lesbian. It is more a movie about belonging. Everyone wants a friend or someone to love them. The absence of it can shatter your world, but if you do find someone, your whole world can change for the better.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good
1 hour, 29 minutes, Swedish with English subtitles, Not Rated, but some language and mature themes, would probably be a PG-13 or R.

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