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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Hollywood always portrays teenagers through clichés and prejudices. No
wonder that this fresh look upon teenagers comes from Sweden, a country the
movies of which only seldom make it to our screens. Fucking Åmål makes me
wish we saw more Swedish movies, since there is definitely something special
about them. The director has chosen a very difficult subject for his first
movie : the (love)story of two young girls. Agnes, 16 (very cute Rebecka
Liljeberg), is in love with Elin, 14 (enthralling Alexandra Dahlström).
Agnes is very closed in upon herself, and doesn't seem to have a single
friend. Elin is probably the first person she has ever loved. Elin, on the
contrary, is a most lively girl who can't stand the boredom of her own life.
Getting drunk allows her to forget about the meaninglessness of life in the
small town of Åmål. Boredom and idleness are indeed an underlying theme of
the movie (especially in its portrayal of youth). Elin dreams about
attacking old ladies, setting houses on fire, fleeing to Stockholm, whatever
will put some excitement in her life. All the boys are attracted to her, but
though she has dated many, she is still a virgin. Through Agnes, she will
discover that she is a lesbian herself, and the deep torments that she feels
are extremely well shown by Lukas Moodysson, the director, in the most
sensitive way possible. It is very hard to express through images the mental
tortures of a teenager who can't accept herself, but Fucking Åmål does it
perfectly. I don't think it is possible to walk out of this movie and not be
in love with Elin and Agnes (no matter if one is a man or a woman). Everyone
has suffered from the kind of torment these two girls live through, and
Fucking Åmål will make those who often consider adolescence with
condescension or even scorn have a whole new look on it. Rarely have I seen
actresses that young that talented. Wait, let me rephrase that : rarely have
I seen actresses that talented, period. It is hard to get out of this movie,
and get back to everyday life, because it feeds on one's own capacity for
emotion continuously, even once the lights have been switched on again and
the screen has turned white. And the only way to feed that need for sheer
emotion is to go see Fucking Åmål again, again, and again.
I just have to leave my own praise for this wonderful film. No other film
touched me this way, and I don't think anything will ever surpass
Maybe it's because Lukas Moodysson and I share so much common values (Morrissey, obsession with teenage-romances and protective attitude towards that phase of life that is easily forgotten or denied.). As a 24 year old male I cannot watch this with dry eyes and I have seen this about 9 times. Rebecka Liljeberg's desperate eyes, thoroughly true blurted dialog, awkward silences and perfect resurrection for that old Foreigner song that doesn't fit into either of main character's musical taste, but will remain so important to them anyway... oh..
I raise my glass of chocolate milk for this achingly beautiful movie, without this my own past would be more dark and forgotten, but you, Lukas, Alexandra, Rebecka and the rest have reminded me what love is all about and why it's still worth seeking.
It's not just a good movie, it's one of those rare certainly good things on earth.
That's right. :)
This no nonsense film is about two schoolgirls exploring life and love. One is a lesbian and the other is a confused heterosexual. 'Fucking Amal' delicately tells a story between these two girls. This is very different from the popular Hollywood teen movies (such as '10 Things I Hate About You') because it is NOT stereotypical, unrealistic and over-the-top. 'Fucking Amal' is a touching and beautiful teen movie. I would rate it 9 out of 10.
P.S. I used to enjoy the Hollywood teen movies....I don't know what I was thinking. 'Fucking Amal' makes you see the light. Trust me.
For me, when watching this movie, one has to keep in mind any other teen-love movies you might have seen. Heck, ALL teen movies are fair game. Then, when watching this movie, notice how those other movies begin to crumble under their own stupidity, and jump off large cliffs like celluloid lemmings. Now THAT'S great filmmaking. Great films go straight for the jugular of other films; thinning out the herd.
Fucking Åmål takes adolescence, and instead of portraying how wonderfully blissful it all was, it shows how it was a time in everyone's life for over-dramatizing and acting mostly petty. But then, out of these ashes rises something that was great about those awkward years: love. Because you didn't stop being dramatic when it came to love, but you celebrated it. Like the characters in this movie, everyone who fell in love in high school spent time brooding over class pictures, or waited by the phone for that one call. Moodysson uses the scenes at the school and the parties to allow viewers to reflect on how awkward and cruel being in high school was. But instead of carrying this effect into the lovely land of high school crushes, he instead raises them up on a pedastal. It made me wonder if i can't love like that again: with no hesitation, no complications, and with all my heart.
What makes this film great though (and not just good) is by bringing the issue of homosexuality into it, but he slowly begins to make the issue hazy and unclear so that it no longer becomes an issue except for the less developed, and unliked, characters in the film. By the end of the movie, it doesn't matter that Agnes and Elin are to GIRLS in love, but that they are two girls in LOVE. In an age where media has transformed homosexuality into more about sexuality and less about love, Moodysson flips the scales. By the end of the movie, you start to realize that Agnes isn't a lesbian, because that title is worthless. She's just a person who loves. She celebrates what she finds beautiful (Elin). Of course, Elin is the main character of the film because she is the one who changes and matures. She elevates herself out of the social stratosphere of high school lunches, and into a world without personal boundries.
Last, one has to admire the fact that Moodysson doesn't take the film over the edge, and make it too much about how girls need to look for love just amongst themselves because all teenage boys are immature. First, he portrays most all of the other kids (regardless of sex) as immature except for Agnes and Elin, not just boys in particular. Then, he allows the viewer to sympathize with Johan. Johan maybe confused and unsure of himself, but he was just as much in love with Elin as Agnes was. How easy it might have been to make him mean, stupid, and worthless, so that viewers would be happy to see Elin flee him and go to Agnes. But he's not, he's kind-hearted and genuinely seems to care about Elin. Once again, this is Moodysson using love to blind the issue of heterosexualty and homosexuality and concentrate on love itself.
Definitely a movie for the romantic, and one that will teach you how to correctly fall in love again.
That scene in the car. That scene brought back every hope and dream I
could remember as a 15 year old in love with a girl in my class I would
never have. It was a validation of all those wonderful daydreams you
had at that age and the hope that sprung from them. It was a moment
that would send that pang in your heart to heights it's never known.
You're never in love like you are at that age - and when you watch a film like this where you can become so completely involved in the life and emotions of a girl like Agnes - and see her greatest hope realized after a day of humiliation and pain - your heart soars. In fact, I can't think of a moment in a movie that is as perfect as this one.
There's a universal quality to the feelings this film evokes that will pull in everyone who has a heart. I'm many years beyond high school - and of the opposite sex of the two protagonists in the film - and I still can't help but identify completely with this movie. Much of this has to do with the two actresses in the lead roles. Where did this director find these two phenomenal actresses? Rebecca Liljeberg has such a quiet and powerful range. Watching her react to other characters is one of the great pleasures of this film. Alexandra Dahlström takes a role that, in anyone else's hands would be either shallow or unbearable, and makes a character so complete, beautifully vulnerable and full of life you can understand why everyone loves her. These two girls - they are so wonderful, expressive and real you just want to hug them.
I saw this film when it came to New York, loved it then when i saw it once during what seemed like only a two week run, then recently remembered it and rented it. I have seen it 5 times since and I'm sure I'll see it many times more. It is a film that transcends gender, sexual orientation and age.
And for all you English language folks out there (I'm one of you), the subtitles will not be a drawback. In fact, watching this film in it's native language brings you even closer to these characters when you realize how familiar life is as a human being, no matter where we're from. How much we all have in common when it comes to matters of the heart. It's a nice little extra to be reminded of, since it's something we sometimes tend to forget.
My praise cannot be more genuine, heartfelt and complete. Get this film. Your day will be made by it. You'll be telling your friends about it. In a busy life where there's a lot of distraction, you'll remember for a moment how wonderful it is to be alive and in love - and how that's worth everything in the world.
I watched this with my girlfriend, who said it was one of the best love
stories she had ever seen - I tend to agree. I am not usually a fan of
love stories, preferring a good zombie flick, but this one transcended
the genre by showing emotion and motivation of the characters in such
an interesting way that you couldn't help but sympathize with them.
I confess that my motivations for watching it were rather base; I heard that it was about teenage Swedish lesbians, and thought that was a subject I would certainly like to explore in more depth. On the one hand, there are none of the explicit scenes I was hoping for; on the other hand, I got into the movie so much I didn't miss them.
Fans of love stories, teenage angst, girl power and anything related will definitely like this movie. Other people will like it too, you'll just have to talk them into watching it. It would certainly make a good date movie, or just one to provoke discussion and romance.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
F****** Amal is a movie about experiencing being in love for the first time,only it's a movie with a bit of a difference-as the love story is between two girls. The painfully shy Agnes(Rebecka Liljeberg)has been living in her town for over a year and is still without friends. The rumuors of her being a lesbian are actually true and she happens to be in love with the popular,cool and extremely beautiful Elin(Alexandra Dahlstrom). Elin kisses Agnes at Agnes' 16th birthdayparty as she is dared by her sister Jessica(Erica Carlson),but is shocked later to find she has feelings for Agnes. The girls share their first proper kiss yet afterwards,Elin chooses to ignore Agnes and starts sleeping with Johan(Mathias Rust),the boy who happens to be besotted with her. Agnes' pain is heartbreaking due to the rejection she is forced to endure throughout the duration of the movie but she is not the only one we find time to sympathise with. It is Elin also,who suffers throughout.Her boredom with the town-'F****** Amal' and the boys in the town(who aren't very smart,and spend most of their time comparing cell-phones)is clearly evident and her boredom sometimes makes her joke occasionally that she is considering being a lesbian,yet it takes her sometime to realise that she actually is. Due to her popularity/reputation,it is hard for her to admit to her true feelings,but in the end she risks everything to follow her heart. As a teenager myself,I felt that this movie was the most accurate and moving portrayl of teenage life since the amazing television series,'My So-Called Life'. The movie deals with the pain of alienation,teen-angst and depression with no hint of exaggeration but an incredible amount of realism. The first real kiss between the two girls in the backseat of a car with Foreigners'I Want To Know What Love Is' playing on the soundtrack is without a doubt,one of the movie's greater moments.Agnes asks,'What are we doing?'and Elin responds,'I don't know,but we are so f****** cool'. Firstly this movie should be praised for it's originality and it's incredible genius,due to it's accuracy of teen life which was captured wonderfully by director and screenwriter,Lukas Moodysson. It should appeal to anyone,regardless of sexuality and I already consider it one of the greatest movie's ever made.
I'd got negative feedback from my friends concerning this movie. They said it was disappointing and that it did not live up to the hype. I couldn't disagree more. I thought it was beautiful. The way Moodyson captured the essence of the movie I thought was stunning. It's all about love. They being lesbians made it even more compelling IMO. I was stunned by the greatness of the movie. I hadn't hoped for much, but I could recognize myself in the movie. Agnes' parents were masterfully portrayed. Her mother was just that too caring and annoying. Her father was the "American" voice of reason, but the way Agnes reacted to him was IMO realistic. I loved the movie, and thought it was one of the best movies I've ever seen. If it wasn't, I wouldn't have been wasting my time at 5am writing about it. That's probably the greatest compliment I can give it. I think I've fallen in love with the protagonists. :-) Neuf points. Not many movies make my cry -and- laugh at he same time. This one did.
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.
If you believe that movies can change or really add something to make you look at life and its challenges in a different way, this movie is undoubtedly one of those which do change things! Unlike the most other movies FA moves in a mostly pure and true way. There's barely heart-melting music to evoke emotions, but strong intensity. Watching the movie, you want it to go on forever, and when it's over, you nevertheless feel perfect happiness because you've witnessed life as it is: wonderful, sad, funny and challenging. The scene when the girls want to go to Stockholm is one of the most wonderful scenes I've ever seen. An absolutely cold atmosphere and the chilly night seem to have expelled life from this little city in the middle of nowhere, but the glances of Elin and Agnes and their few words are as alive as possible. The few seconds in the car are as if they had already succeeded in getting out of their emotional misery, as if they were in Stockholm, and yet the surroundings are still the same, the same unbearable cold light and the same endless darkness beyond the street. It's not the spot that is different, but the girls themselves. For a moment they feel the enormous strength of life and love. For a moment they know where they belong to. For a moment everything is perfect. I'm in love with that scene. Sometimes words can be beautiful, sometimes authors strike divine chords, sometimes painters create mystery and dreams, but only movies can unite movements and words, glances and silence. A smile and the hurting silence, one single word spoken with the glance of love. Movies can have such an incredible power, but rarely do they get by using it. FA does! It changes, maybe it changes things of which I didn't even know they exist, there's possibly not even a word to name them. This movie is just pure, and no rational explanation or critic can keep up with its emotional intensity. Don't understand it, love it!
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