Lukas Moodysson – Lilja 4-ever (2002)


Lilja 4-ever is a 2002 drama film. It is director Lukas Moodysson’s third feature film which marks a sharp change of mood from his previous two films, the uplifting love story Show Me Love and Together, set in the 1970s. Lilja 4-ever is an unremittingly brutal and realistic story of the downward spiral of Lilja, played by Oksana Akinshina, a girl in the former Soviet Union whose mother abandons her to move to the United States. The story is loosely based on a true case and examines the issue of human trafficking and sexual slavery.

The film received positive reviews both in Sweden and abroad. It won five Guldbagge Awards including Best Film, and was nominated for Best Film and Best Actress at the European Film Awards.

From “Eadon’s Old Site of Random Bullshit:”

I won’t give away the plot outline, you need to see this and savour it, if that is the word. Just know that this is a subtitled, Swedish film that contains disturbing, adult themes, and that this is most definitively worth your time. If you are serious about cinema, then read no further, and watch!

Lilja 4-ever is about the attempts of an adolescent girl to thrive, then survive, in Russia. She finds herself in conditions of poverty in the midst of highly (perhaps implausibly) unsavoury company – I know this sounds dull, but be not deceived. Lilja 4-ever is easily the most involving movie I have seen this year, or this millennium come to that. There are moments of touching joy, but mostly Lilja 4-ever is enchanting, tragic, haunting, painful. It is a movie I’ll not forget in a hurry. In fact, the longer it is since I saw it, the more moved I am. When watching this, I was almost in denial, and only now is the full impact of the movie hitting me. This is personal, of course, some people might be indifferent, cold devils, shrug, and say, I’m bored! Bring on the guns! Lilja 4-ever is apparently based on the life of Dangoele Rasalaite, a Latvian girl. I didn’t know that before watching this, but my immediate impression after watching Lilja 4-ever was that the really upsetting thing is the feeling that the movie is based more on reality than fiction.

Lilja 4-ever is shot without gimmicks, yet there is something moving about the direction. The acting is so superb you don’t notice it, including the portrayal of a boy who becomes wholly dependant upon Lilja as a guardian. Foreign movies can deal with subjects beyond the scope of most modern Hollywood movies, and often they are more mature. Nothing made by Hollywood I know of can match the power of a movie like this. I’m not saying all movies should be like Lilja 4-ever, of course. But, as often happens, a low-budget movie will move me a million times more than the mega-budget Hollywood stuff that floods the worlds cinemas through American distribution cartels.

This movie contains a plethora of powerful “adult” scenes & themes, but if you are old enough, please find a way to see Lilja 4-ever, it is a life-perspective altering exposition, the likes which, shallow nonsense like Forest Gump could only dream of.

The only thing is, it took me a week to shake off a sadness that settled behind my eyes, and even now there are melancholic echoes.

Language(s):Russian, Swedish, English, Polish

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