Sixteen-year-old Lilja and her only friend, the young boy Volodja, live in Estonia, fantasizing about a better life. One day, Lilja falls in love with Andrej, who is going to Sweden, and invites Lilja to come along and start a new life.
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While waiting for her mothers reply to take her to the USA, Lilya idles the time away smoking, drinking and having fun with her, too, outcast friend Volodya. In time, the chance of a new life becomes non-existent; her life is going nowhere. Meeting a young man, she then finds a plane ticket in her hand and a new life in Sweden: a job, an apartment and prospects. All is not what it seems. There shall be work, there shall be housing and there shall be no escape. This is the stark, frank and disturbing vision of the life of a young victim of the underground sex trade and in all its tone of realism of abject poverty, despicable actions and of wanting to show that dreaming of a better life is not a crime but that life can shatter the illusion of a happy ending.Written by
It is not often that everyone is quiet after a movie at the cinema. Some were crying, others did not know how to act, ending up staring out in to the emptiness. For me, nothing was the same after I did leave the cinema. I know that it sounds like a cliché, but I tell you, it is not. Some of these people were laughing before they sat down, but the haunting beginning of the movie did wake everyone up. Every day you do wake up, when you are working you do hurry away; maybe you take your children with you to leave them at the nearby kindergarten. If it is a holiday, maybe you are of to meet some friends. In the evening you come home, you are cooking and eating. Maybe you do sit down with your wife and kids watching a good TV-show. When the night comes, you are wishing your child's a good night's sleep before you go to bed. It is not easy for you to know what is going on inside the apartment of your neighbour. The time that pass from the beginning to the end is the time the director Lukas Moodysson have to convince you that the reality is not as good as you may think, or maybe you already know, all to well.
The reality of leading character Lilja becomes slowly a part of your reality. You can choose to see Lilja in two different points of view. You can see her as a part of a fairly tale, and nothing more, than her life story will disappear after the movie in your shower. Or you may see her as she is; a picture of what life can do with people who are not as lucky as you, a picture of other girls in the same situation as she. The great acting of the 15 year old Russian actress Oksana Akinsjina makes it possible. I did almost forget that she is not Lilja when I did see the movie, it is heartbreaking when she is crying, and when she is happy her smile is the most wonderful you have seen that day. But a few minutes later you may see pain in her eyes. If you are thinking about what is happing in the movie, you will understand her reactions. When it is painful then she cries without hope, when it is too painful she doesn't seems to react at all (exactly like you!) and you don't need to imagine to feel the pain she have inside.
The one that will become more close to her than anyone else is the street kid and male leading character Volodja act by the 12 year old Artiom Bogutjarskij (his first movie). I have worked with street children and his acting is very authentic. When everything falls apart for Lilja, Volodja becomes her last hope, he is never leaving her in her mind he is always close. He is the one who is always there, the one that catches her when she falls. Lukas said in an interview that Volodja are a shape of Jesus in the end you will understand. These parts are telling about the dreams of Lilja, whom makes it easier to understand her vision of hope. Lukas is the best Swedish director now and maybe of all time. The integrity of his actors is intact, that he manages to do it in a movie like this shows how good as a director he is. He has a moving respect for Oksana and the way he cares about her integrity is the thing that makes this movie worth looking. His manuscript is trustworthy and don't have any illogical lacks. Nothing is darker than it could be in the reality. All characters are three dimensional and even the evil characters are human, even the victims are not just victims.
You may wonder if the reality is this dark. In a article in a Swedish newspaper Lukas Moodyson told that he had spoken with a social worker and he was told that some mothers do sell their own kids for 1 £ to the sex industry. Though the movie is fictional and not about her, many of the memorable things that are happening to Lilja in the movie did happen to Dangoule Rasalaite from Latvia between the 17th September 1999 and the 10th January 2000. Lukas read about her in an article. The reality is always worse than the fiction.
The young actors do carry the weight of the movie with grace. Their acting against each other is moving, it is a special chemistry between them. Lukas has the gift of finding the right persons for the characters in all is movies, and Lilja 4-ever is not an exception. Last Monday Lilja forever won 5 out of 6 gold beagles (the most important Swedish film award) it was nominated to (Artiom was also nominated for best performance by an actor). The awards it won were for best movie, best picture, best manuscript, best direction, and the most important of them all, best performance by an actress. Trafficking is the third biggest illegal industry in the world; it makes this movie so important. Lukas Moodysson and Oksana did manage to wake up this nation, to show that our reality is not as good as we thought. We can see it in the reactions of the cinema public, how people are talking about it afterwards, and in the newspapers. The Swedish government are working for the possibility to show this movie in schools all over the former Sovjet Union. Lukas has said that if this movie can convince one girl to make other decisions than Lilja and to many other young girls; this movie was worth making.
This movie is worth more than all the awards it has won and all the awards it will win. This movie can change your point of view, it is that message of hope it brings.
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