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the acting was superb. however, i wish people would give this movie its due credits -as a coming of age LESBIAN story. not all too realistic at times. i watched this film in a theater full of lesbians, and i think i am speaking for the majority when i say that `fucking åmål' was the representation in film we had been searching for, to express our teen frustrations, or if only our hopes, in a very laughably light way.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I came across this film entirely by chance. So far I have only seen it
in fragmentary form on Youtube but I am completely in love with it (my
CD is on order). Others here have already described it much more
eloquently than I ever could so I won't attempt a synopsis.
My adolescent years in a traditional English boys' boarding school in the early 70s could hardly have been more different from small town Sweden yet I identified completely with lonely, beautiful, shy Agnes - so adored and cared for by her understanding parents but so unhappy with her lot, misunderstood and mocked by her petty foul-mouthed schoolmates, yearning for an impossible love.
For me Lindsay Anderson's "If...." (1968) has always been the defining movie of my adolescence for its exaggerated, satirical portrait of public school life. That film touches very briefly on the love boys could have for each other but does not explore the territory; love which seemed at the time so perfect and pure, transcending the surrounding cruelty and vulgarity, made all the more poignant by its forbidden nature and the ostracism it entailed. F***ing Amal fills that gap and belongs up there with Anderson's masterpiece.
My favourite moments are not the obvious ones of the kissing scene or the dream sequence, but the sight of Agnes' tear stained face as she types her thoughts into her computer and her quiet nod of assent in the cubicle. The ending is uplifting but I was left with doubts. Would Elin really have had the courage to do this? Is it just a passing whim for her? Perhaps that is why the film is made to end so quickly. The perfect moment had been arrived at and bliss like this can never be sustained, or perhaps ever repeated.
F*cking Åmål or Show Me Love is the 1998 feature length debut from
Swedish director Lukas Moodysson. It is a wonderful story of love,
discovery and the volatile times we all experience as teenagers. In it
we meet Agnes, shy and reserved, struggling to make friends in a new
town. She is full of anger at her parents and the world as a whole and
secretly harbor's feelings towards another girl, Elin. Elin in stark
contrast is confident, popular and full of life, but as with many of
her friends, she is bored with her small-town life and wants out, using
drink and partying as an escape. Rumours abound about Agnes' sexuality
and after an attempt to humiliate Agnes by Elin and her friends, the
two spend sometime together which culminates in a beautiful, funny,
joyous moment where with the song 'I want to know what love is' playing
loudly, they kiss. It is a brilliantly captured moment of that first
tentative kiss we all experience, a kiss that can lead to the first
real love we feel. And this is where the story takes us; these two
young people are experiencing all the joys, emotions and confrontations
It is this very realism that makes this film so enjoyable. The teenagers we see and the way they behave is something we can all understand and appreciate as we have all been there. We have all had a first kiss, been in love for the first time, hated our parents, felt lonely, been bullied or bullied others, experimented with drink, drugs and of course sex. Yet regardless of our own sexuality we can still understand the emotions and feelings being portrayed by these characters. That first real kiss the girls have should be enough to take us all back to our own first kiss. Moodysson has also gathered a great young cast with a standout performance being that of Rebecka Liljeberg. Her performance as the troubled Agnes is remarkable. These natural performances help make the story work. But it also works because the film doesn't portray the themes it examines with clichés, as one would expect if this were a Hollywood film. It doesn't sensationalize teenage life, nor does it sensationalize sex or sexuality. It doesn't include violence, guns, stereotypes or ridiculous scenarios that teen films or indeed films exploring love that we see from America can often display. Moodysson presents us with characters and scenarios we can all relate to, in a natural and simple presentation. It is simply an accurate portrayal of being an average teenager.
Moodysson not only directed, but also wrote the screenplay, taking him nine drafts before settling on the one we see. Whilst it is filmed on hand-held camera, reminiscent of dogma style films, this isn't as annoying or disconcerting as it could be. In fact it seems to help evoke the themes the film explores and make it more believable, perhaps giving the film a documentary like quality. Moodysson has made a remarkable debut feature, one that examines all the pain and joy of teenage life in a tender, convincing, often funny way that doesn't alienate the audience. The final script had asked to see the two girls walk away hand in hand, but during filming it was changed to the wonderful scene of them sitting, full of nervous energy, not knowing what to do next. It is a simple, realistic way to end the film, because we the viewer can understand how these girls feel. We understand how strange and delightful being in love can be.
Internationally acclaimed director Lukas Moodysson's 1998 film "Show Me
Love" is a brilliantly scripted teen drama/comedy that has been
compared to "American Pie" in its real life depiction of teenagers.
This was Moodysson's second feature film and one of Sweden highest
grossing films ever.
The story really touches on a wide variety of human truths that apply to teenagers as well as parents all around the world. The basic culture of high school is the same no matter where you live. In the small town of Amal, like many American towns, teens have little to do and are bored to no end. Agnes is just turning sixteen and her family moves quite frequently, leaving her with few friends. She is a social outcast and rumored to be a lesbian. Her parents are loving and supportive but not in a fake, condescending way. They are not your typical teen movie parents who are usually either absent or played as out of touch buffoons. On the other side of the spectrum there is Elin, the most popular girl in school, but does this mean her life is some how easier? Not by a long shot. Being beautiful has its downside. Elin and her slightly older sister Jessica have your basic love hate relationship. They hangout with each other all the time but constantly argue and fight only to make up.
Against her wishes Agnes's mom throws her a birthday party, with her only her guest being her pseudo friend Viktoria who is confined to a wheelchair. The party is a disaster as Agnes, unprovoked, blows up at Vicktoria. As Elin and Jessica leave one party they look for another, and decide to crash Agnes's. Elin ends up kissing Agnes on a dare from her sister leaving Agnes used, confused and angry. In the middle of a half hearted suicide attempt, Elin returns and the girls walk, talk, and goof off. Can a movie about teen lesbians be made without being exploitive or clichéd? Yes, Moodysson's characters are as real and as honest as it gets, he never goes for the cheap laugh or the tired stereotypes. These are real people and it makes the film so much richer. The other question would be, can Agnes and Elin be open with there feelings for each other at school? Elin is very hesitant and blows off Agnes for a big part of the story, deciding to hook up with Johan instead. Johan is another well put together character who all to often buckles under peer pressure and never makes up his own mind. This leads us to the paradox of being a teenager, everybody wants to be unique and different, while wanting to belong and fit in with everybody else. Then there is the age old question of what is normal? The movie ends with a very metaphorical scene at the school when Agnes and Elin decide if there relationship is worth going forward.
High school can be and usually is the most volatile time in a person's life and often lays the foundation of who we are as adults. Will Agnes and Elin's relationship last? Who knows, but the bigger message of this movie is over coming what other people think of you and becoming your own person.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I applaud this film because of:
1) The sheer bravery of the film-makers honestly portraying two teenage girls who grow to love each other.
2) The uncompromising commitment the actors, screenwriter and director have to the subject matter. The writer did not start to write a lesbian-themed movie and then get scared; you know, where one of the girls winds up being simply confused, or proves to be dysfunctional and looking for attention, or turns out to have a low libido or is trying to provoke an ex-boyfriend.
3) Most importantly, the authentic casting. Faced with this script, a skittish, hand-wringing casting director from the U.S.A. would have hired women in their mid-twenties to play these roles and the result would have been laughably ludicrous. "Fucking Amal" was courageously cast with real teens and the film rings true because of it.
4) The low-tech production values actually add to the movie's appeal by giving it a gritty realism.
5) The two main actresses, Rebecca Liljeberg and Alexandra Dahlstrom, are positively adorable human beings and their acting is so realistic they give the movie a so-real-you're-there feel.
There are three small negatives which keep the movie from rating ten stars:
1) The two main characters whine and complain too much in the first half of this film. I know they're supposed to be hormoned out and they live in a boring, no-account hamlet; but too much is still too much.
2) Even considering this movie is about teens, there is too much interpersonal cruelty in the script for the film's own good. I appreciate that they were trying to make a bravely realistic movie, but even slightly more love and tenderness would have drawn the audience in still more.
3) "Fucking Amal" would have improved if there was more intimacy between the two young women. The characters are old enough to feel deep love and also experience sexual longing for the one they're in love with. Even a little sexual intimacy toward the end of the film would have assured the viewer that the girls intend to authentically live out their love for one another.
Overall a courageous, fabulous film. Maybe someday Hollywood will make a teen film this real!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Moodysson and his crew tell the heartwarming tale of two teenage girls and their struggle with puberty. Growing up in a small, gray town in Sweden (where nothing exiting ever happens)is hard for most children. The i.m.o. stunningly beautiful Agnes (portrayed by Rebecka Liljeberg) is a simple, lesbian teenager who clearly has issues locating her own identity. She and her family moved to Amal approximately two years ago and she doesn't seem to manage making new friends. Her only "friend" is a local handicapped girl who is in a wheelchair but they both realize that the only reason why they are hanging out together is because no one else is interested in them. Elin (portrayed by Alexandra Dahlström) is one of the most popular girls in the neighborhood. Boys adore her for her beauty and girls want to be her for that exact same reason. When the parents of Agnes decide to throw her a birthday party one day she is afraid that no one will turn up. Eventually no does (exept for her cripple "friend") but after a while Elin and her sister show up at the doorstep. At first both sisters had the intention to get drunk as quick as possible (they only came to the party to get access to free wine) but this changes as soon as Elin gets to read a small part of her hosts diary. Appearantly Agnes has feelings for Elin and she (always on the lookout for new kicks) decides to kiss Agnes after she is dared by her sister. Nothing could have prepared her for the sensation that occurs during the kiss. What follows is the harsh and equally beautiful story of the young women, falling in love with each other and the problems that occur during the growth of their relationship (problems caused by the ignorance & stupidity of some of their intolerant friends). This film was made on a low budget and it is the living proof that talented filmmakers don't need a lot of money to make truly wonderful films. I can guarantee you that you will feel good about yourself after watching this wonderful film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you want to see a true, non-cliché love story: F*cking Amal! Characters are taken from real-life, so they're easy to relate to. Agnes, the girl who has no (real) friends, is in love with Eline, the most popular girl in school. The hole that is Agnes' life gets bigger and bigger in the first part of the film. Her father sees this and desperately wants to help his daughter... really touching. The guilt (/love?) that gets to Eline after she hurt Agnes, makes Eline think... I'll stop here as I don't want to spoil the whole story. You can of course guess what follows, but the way it is shot, and the beauty of the dialogs are rare. Let yourself be touched by its simplicity and realness!
Show Me Love takes place in a small Swedish village called Åmål and
centres on two teenaged girls - the popular Elin and the lonely Agnes.
Both have their own problems - Elin is bored by life in Åmål and
aspires to loftier goals such as fame and love, whereas Agnes has to
deal with having no friends and being infatuated with Elin.
This was definitely a change of pace from the last few films I watched. No gun-fights, no sword-fights, no random pop-culture dialogues...what you have is a very down-to-earth film about these two girls and the situations they find themselves in. That made it all the more unpredictable - not like anything ordinary where you can easily tell whether anything ends in a good way or a bad way. I honestly did not know what to expect next, and that was definitely one of the better things about the film.
In that sense, Show Me Love managed to be a brilliant portrayal of real life. One of the things that really impressed me was how well it was paced. The pacing of the film, with gaps of varying length between important events, had me feeling anxious a lot of the time, wondering what'd happen next. I wonder if there's any other films that handle this just as well, if not better. It makes you feel connected. Who hasn't waited on something like the people in this? It only made each new event feel much more of a relief, before using that as a springboard onto an even more tense waiting game.
Onto other things - everything about this film was good. The grainy yellowish film gave the film its own unique look. The acting wasn't really spectacular, but it didn't have to be. Real people don't act spectacular, they're just them, and all the characters felt that way. The soundtrack was a real highlight. Even thought it's the kind of grungy rock you'd expect for any 90s teen movie (let alone one like Show Me Love), it really shines through.
I found Show Me Love to be a pretty good film. Yes, the words I'd use would be "pretty good". Perfect? No. Excellent? Perhaps. Worthy of wider recognition? Definitely.
It's true that this is a great love/friendship story, but the setting is what makes it brilliant. It is about the frustration of feeling like you are stuck somewhere that you hate, which of course applies to both the isolated small town and the state of mind for someone treated like an outcast. The original Swedish title, F-ing Amal, is exactly the idea that serves as the driving force is in this picture. I understand why it was changed for the English speaking audience, but a better English title would have preserved that sentiment, something like "This awful place" or "Get me out of Amal." "Show me Love" puts too much emphasis on the lesbian aspect of the film, which to me seemed only a detail in the greater portrait of life in the middle of nowhere.
I like small films. This one is a tiny film. Everything from the
setting (small, small town) to the plot (girl loves girl in small,
small town) to the graininess of the video and the natural light and
"whatever we hand at hand"-props, this runs the risk of looking like a
real amateur productions. Instead, Moodyson manages to make it look
like someone with a camcorder just filmed the real-life story happening
Elin performs the fickle, restless teen brilliantly, Agnes does some wonderful face acting (although she is a little too radiant to convince me that he's the frumpy nerd she's made out to be), but my medal of honor goes to the parents.
For once, we are treated to movie moms and dads who are neither ridiculously idolized and always saying the right thing, nor grotesque "meet the fokkers"-esquire parodies of embarrassment or cruelty. These parents want to do what's right for their kids, but they don't always know what to do, what to say or how to say it. They miss all the Hollywood moments of saying something a team of scriptwriters have been tweaking for a month for maximal tearjerker effect. They try their best, that's all, just like real-life parents. And that's refreshing to me.
A nice flick. Watch it if you feel like a bit of light euro-culture with subtitles.
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