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Anders W. Berthelsen,
Åmål is a small insignificant town where nothing ever happens, where the latest trends are out of date when they get there.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
Director Lukas Moodysson's Show Me Love is an eerily accurate commentary on 1990s teenagers in small-towns in Sweden. In fact, it's accurate almost to the point of being mistaken for Reality. It is above all other things a love story, exploring the relationship of two closet-lesbians girls at a modern High School. Many people thought Show Me Love was worth checking out for its bizarre premise alone, but only a few minutes into the movie you can tell that it is one of the most grounded, realistic portrayals in European cinema.
The dialog, for one, is fantastically realistic and blunt and this makes Show Me Love a very subtle film; it shows things exactly the way they are, down to the very recognizable expressions that the teenagers use and the awkwardness of interacting at that age. It criticizes stereotypes and socioeconomic classes and makes a point without preaching and this is something that is extremely rare in Hollywood cinema and that you can perhaps appreciate more in international films.
The film is not devoid of High School stereotypes, but they are much more subtle than you'd find in the average, American mainstream high school flick. There is no distinct jock, no perfect prom-queen and no nerd. Instead you have the seemingly popular girl, Elin (Alexandra Dahlström), who in fact struggle with many things, including her sexuality and somewhat Emo (although the term "Emo" wasn't coined yet) girl, Agnes, who is anything but popular and has mountains of worries. These two teenagers find a connection and an attraction that is entirely inappropriate. They fall in love.
Elin and Agnes are extremely likable characters; Elin despite her constant need for attention and her popular status, and Agnes despite her sometimes whiny depression. What they have in common is that they're both fundamentally lonely young girls who are fed up with their places in life, and in Åmål("Why do we have to live here?") probably the most boring city in Scandinavia.
Show Me Love is one of my favorite movies for its simplicity. No fancy editing, no effects, no flashy lightning or anything even remotely out-of-place. In this sense, it follows many rules of Dogme 95 film-making. It just stays true to the gloomy, boring, small town that is Åmål. But don't let this scare you off, because this is not a depressing movie it is a delightful and warming film with heart.
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