Lilya 4 Ever

Year: 2002
Director: Lukas Moodysson
Writer: Lukas Moodysson
Almost a fairytale in that on one level, it's a parable for Russia itself; broken down, grey, its innocence and dreams shattered, left poor and cold and living in squalor.

In what must be the worst geopolitical location for a teenage girl to live in the modern era, it's also the story of lost youth among such crushing poverty. Lilya is a young girl who has the same hopes and dreams as most, wants to wear jeans, meet nice boys, eat fast food and grow up like they do on TV.

But the ghetto she lives in somewhere in the former USSR is a depressing, ramshackle slum full of violence, danger and despair. We see Lilya succumb to one aspect after another of it after she's literally abandoned by her mother, before the crunch comes.

She meets a lovely boy who promises to fly her to Sweden to a better life. Her only friend - an 11 year old boy - is doubtful, but she goes, only to find she's been sold into prostitution and is a prisoner.

As a story it's hard on the nerves - it starts out heartbreaking and goes downhill all the way, for every character in the story as the boy commits suicide, and Lilya - with nowhere else to go - jumps off a bridge to escape her fate.

One criticism is that it's too obvious to the audience what's going to happen to Lilya. Maybe that was Moodysson's intent - to show us how dangerous it is to be innocent, when we know perfectly well what's goin to happen to her at every warning bell.

And the appearance of her friend as an angel (complete with cheesy fake wings) is fairly silly, especially when he helps her escape.

Well performed (although it's always hard to read people speaking in another language) heart wrenching, and completely devoid of hope or goodness. Politcally, a warning and call to arms for us all. As a story, exhausting, draining, and saddening.

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