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Åmål is a small insignificant town where nothing ever happens, where the latest trends are out of date when they get there. Young Elin has a bit of a bad reputation when it comes to guys, but the fact is that she has never done *it*. Another girl in her school, Agnes, is in love with her but is too shy to do anything about it. For a number of reasons, Elin ends up at Agnes' birthday party as the only guest. They have a girl's night out together but after that Elin desperately avoids Agnes, refusing to even consider her own feelings toward Agnes. Written by
I'm usually impervious to teen movies. I just can't get beyond the usual moaning, complaining and whining. I find it too much to bear, especially from people who don't have to work for a living, who still have their parents looking after them and who are incapable of expressing themselves properly. I, for one, a pauper scumbag languishing in the job market, would love to have their inconsequential problems. But if I take myself back to my school days then I can just about find humanity enough to sympathise. My teenage years weren't tough I actually really rather enjoyed school but I know how it feels to grow up not knowing what you want from life and where you're going. It's certainly a confusing time.
So it's perhaps because of that that I enjoy Show Me Love. It's depiction of teenage years feels genuine and honest and I can relate to most of it. As opposed to Hollywood teen films where all the girls are strikingly gorgeous, the boys are ripped and everyone goes around driving cars and doing designer drugs. My school days weren't like that at all. They were much more like Moodysson's film where the girls wear bad make-up, the boys are hopeless with the opposite sex and where a crushing air of mediocrity hangs in the atmosphere. Everything seems hopeless.
But despite that, my adolescence was pretty smooth sailing. There were no great trails or tribulations. Which is perhaps why I find it so hard to relate to teenagers. Not once did I want to kill myself and I never spent any time pining for a girl (lusting, yeah, but love never entered my mind). So to me their problems always seem rather pathetic. But because Show Me Love depicts adolescence so genuinely, with all its awkwardness and idiocy, I can't help but like it.
What rings most true is the sheer incompetence of boys around girls. At that age, most of the males of the species are hopeless with the opposite sex. They haven't a clue. And so the terrible compliments ('Jesus you're beautiful') and bone-headed chat-up attempts are rather amusing. Johan, in particular, with his awful bike and terrible baseball cap is subject of the most laughs. He's Amal in physical form. A dead end. And Markus, the other boy, is no better. He knows nothing about women either. In fact, the boys are more comfortable with each other. They'd rather spend time measuring mobile phones. Only with mobile phones, small is best. Inverse penis measuring, anyone?
And the sheer awfulness of a lot of the girls also rings a bell. I don't know her name, but the girl with the miniscule eyebrows (which makes her look rather sinister and perpetually shocked) reminds me of a lot of horrible girls at school. Girls who were experts in making other people's lives a misery. And then there's the handicapped girl. Agnes is unfortunate enough to be friends with her, even though she doesn't like her. Those friendships are the worst friendships born entirely of convenience and without a shred of genuine affection. Nothing is more suffocating. But as in real life, such friendships are hard to get out of. You may not particularly like the person, you may have nothing in common and you may have nothing to say to one another, but at school to be alone is to be exposed. It's better to have someone in your corner anyone. And it's especially hard to get out of the friendship if someone has a disability. You feel obliged to make them certain concessions. So therefore it's quite shocking, yet understandable, that Agnes lashes out at the girl and that the girl takes it the way she does. However, the disabled girl's attempts to get back at Agnes and curry favour with the rest of her classmates make me squirm. I saw many such incidents myself at school.
Less convincing, however, and it's a major reservation, is the sincerity of Elin's feelings towards Agnes. I just can't help but feel that it's a passing thing. Sure she may be a lesbian or bisexual, but I can't quite decide whether she does actually love Agnes I completely believe in Agnes' feelings. She just seems to flit too often from one person or to one thing. There's one bit where's she checking to see what's cool and what's not cool. Is this her way of getting back? Is this her way of giving her life excitement? I'm not sure. When I first saw it I was more dubious, but now that I've watched it a couple more times I'm more willing to give the film the benefit of the doubt. I mean, Elin does reach the film's conclusion and her own conclusion rather haphazardly, but in that moment she does seem completely honest. And the ending, when they literally come out of the closet, is a great moment (although perhaps a little glib. I can't bear to think what they'd have to put up with afterwards and whether their fledgling relationship would survive).
But still, even if I'm not 100% sure of Elin's feelings, it still manages to be a rather beguiling film. And this is mostly down to Rebecca Liljeberg's performance as Agnes. As I've already said, most teens I don't really care about, but Agnes is an exception. She's a smart girl with good parents but who still feels miserable. But despite this, her character is never annoying and never seems selfish. She just wants what everyone wants. She wants to be happy and she wants to feel normal. And because she goes through such an understandable range of emotions during the course of the film, and because her angst seems so genuine and deeply felt, I can't help but love the end of the film.
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