Lilja is 16 years old. Her only friend is the young boy Volodja. They live in Estonia, fantasizing about a better life. One day, Lilja falls in love with Andrej. He is going to Sweden, and invites Lilja to come along and start a new life.
A story about a troubled boy growing up in England, set in 1983. He comes across a few skinheads on his way home from school, after a fight. They become his new best friends even like family. Based on experiences of director Shane Meadows.
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
I killed myself and went to heaven and yeah, it's really good in heaven. But I regret it, 'cause I wanted to live on earth a little longer. You remain dead for all eternity, but you're alive only for a brief moment.
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This is about the buying and selling of human beings. Lilja is in a hopeless situation, she is betrayed and then sold. The men who sell and buy her are not concerned with who she is, or why she is there. They don't want to know. They do their business and don't ask questions.
There is not much doubt this could be a true story. Moodysson wrote the script after reading about a young girl, an eastern European refugee, under strange circumstances throwing herself off a bridge in Malmö. "Sex slavery", trafficking, is out of sight, out of mind for most of us, but is still very much in effect. And most of the people on the planet live very hard lives.
The buying and selling of people is something that we all live with. We all sell ourselves to anonymous corporations, we have to do it, it is in the fabric of our societies. Liljas sale is on another scale of exploitation, of course, but it is also an extreme of what capitalism effectively means. Everything is a commodity.
The movie tells the story of of a young girls destruction by brutal socioeconomic and individual forces, both objectively and subjectively. While there is no big drama, the story is told from the perspective of Lilja. There are a few weaknesses, the portrayal of Lilja starts with things going bad, and then they turn even worse. We don't get to know Lilja outside of hardships, which probably enables us to differentiate ourselves from her. Also its a bit over-explicit in the depiction of the adult betrayal of Lilja. What if, for example, Liljas mother hadn't disappeared, the way she does in the movie, would that make the story much less tragic?
Otherwise, its a film that people "should see", there should be a 100 of these kind of movies made for every new, strained, meaningless, "J.Lo is pretty and wants romance" or "Arnie is strong, rightfully angry and wants to kill somebody", film. Instead of the other way around, the way it is today.
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