(1998) dir. Lukas Moodysson
This Swedish lesbian coming-of-age film, I’m not sure exactly how it came into my queue, though it was in relationship to Let the Right One In (2008), “the Swedish vampire movie” in that it’s a “coming of age” film with a sweetness to it. Sounds like a Netflix recommendation. But I think that I’d seen that it had been directed by Lukas Moodysson, whose Lilya 4-ever (2002) was one of those films that’s been lingering on my queue for some years.
The film is a sweet one, though edging towards a naturalism of life as a young teen, an outsider, whether because of her sexual orientation, or simply her “otherness”, Agnes receives heinous treatment by her high school peers. It’s not exactly Larry Clark’s Kids (1995), but it shows a harsh reality of the way teenagers treat one another, apparently the world over. Agnes, who is a beautiful young girl, has a crush on Elin, a pretty, confident, rebellious blonde who is simmering with angst and frustration. Actually, I kind of like the film’s original Swedish title better than its American one. Fucking Åmål. Åmål is the town in which they live. I guess some burg where teenagers feel like nothing is ever happening. Kind of summarizes the attitude of the kids.
The film flirts with the real nasty pains and cruelties that kids have on one another, driving Agnes nearly to suicide. But Elin, the wild girl, finds herself equally in love with Agnes. And the film winds up with a happy ending, something along the lines of an after school special rather than a gritty reality. Even the spurned loving boyfriend gets another girl in the end.
It’s much more frank and real than most stories about coming of age that you might see in America. The contemplations and hopes and hopelessness are captured well. And frankly, I’m glad it all worked out for Agnes and Elin. They are a cute couple and send a positive message in their commitment to themselves. So, you don’t go home all heartbroken. It’s a sweet film, yes, but not the haunting evocative world of Let the Right One In, though it does offer a glimpse into the lives of teens on the outside of the center.