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
The town in which Lilja lives, is in real life called Paldiski and is located in Estonia, not far from the capital Tallinn. The submarine base has now been destroyed. Some scenes are indeed shot in Paldiski, but many in Tallinn - in the districts of Kopli and Lasnamäe. See more »
Its story is completely devastating, but I wouldn't want to miss a second of it
I've said it before and I'll say it again: the best movies never get the attention that they deserve. Take for instance this "Lilja 4-ever". It has never been in any large movie theater and is only shown on festivals or on specialized TV stations that broadcast more non-commercial movies. That's also how I got to see it. I knew about this movie, but had never been able to give it a try, until two days ago when it was finally shown on national television.
Lilja is a 16 year old Estonian girl who will move with her mother and her mother's new boyfriend to the USA. But when it's about time to leave, her mother tells her that she can't come with them right now. She will have to stay for a while, following them to the USA afterward and until then her mother will send her money. But once they are gone, it quickly gets clear that they have abandoned Lilja and don't want to see her ever again. She doesn't really have anyone to take care of her and has only one real friend, the young boy Volodja. Completely out of money, she decides to sell the only thing that she has left, her body. She picks up older men in a disco until one day she meets Andrej, a nice boy of her own age. She falls deeply in love with him and when he tells her that she can come with him to Sweden to find a well-payed job and a beautiful apartment so she can start an entire new life far away of all the misery, she is convinced that for once and for all her luck has changed...
Just after I saw the movie, I went to bed to get some sleep, but the entire movie just kept spooking through my head all the time, keeping me awake for hours. Even now, I'm still thinking about the horrible faith of that poor girl. That has a lot to do with the excellent acting of course. Oksana Akinshina is a complete stranger to me, but her performance was so incredibly good and so believable, that you might easily forget that you are watching a movie instead of a real life documentary. Artyom Bogucharsky as Volodya, Pavel Ponomaryov as Andrej, Liliya Shinkaryova as Lilja's aunt,... None of them is famous or has played in many other movies, but one by one, they play their roles as if they have never done anything else in their entire lives.
"Lilja 4-ever" isn't exactly a movie that will make you happy. I would even say that its story will leave you behind completely devastated, but will also keep you thinking about Lilja for days after you've seen it. That's what happened to me and that's something that I haven't experienced too often yet. If you are strong enough to cope with the hard reality, then you should definitely give this movie a try. In my opinion there is only one appropriate rating for a movie like this one and that is 10/10!!!
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