Swedish director Lukas Moodysson had been writing serious poetry for years before finally turning his hand to telling stories for the screen, but his deft hand at inspired irony, lyrical imagery, wry nuances, and delicate juxtapositions of desire, both metaphorical and literal, has been transferred superbly to the language of cinema in many of his features, especially in Together, Show Me Love, and the dark Lilja-4-Ever.
Show Me Love (1998) is nothing new under the romantic, coming of age sun. It deals with the universal teenage themes of angst and awkwardness, the embarrassment of one’s parents, peer pressure, and the cruelty of adolescence. But Moodysson plays a brilliant, yet subtle hand, crafting his story from the most simple of elements: raw honesty and unflinching naturalism.
The lead roles of Rebecka Liljeberg as Anges, the wallflower with a pure heart, and Alexandra Dahlstrom as Elin, the bombshell blonde with the mixed messages, drive the movie with dynamism and verve. Both earned Sweden’s Academy Award equivalent. Also memorable are the performances of Mathais Rust as Johan, the boy who must bear most of the frustration, as he tries in vain to win the heart of Elin, and Josefin Nyberg as Viktoria, Elin’s friend who accompanies her to Agnes’s birthday party (a hilarious scene).
Moodysson shot the movie on 16mm (then a 35mm blow-up) and the grainy look adds an almost documentary feel to the movie, enhanced by the naturalistic performances and unpretentious camerawork. It’s a teenage girl-meets-girl love story; refreshing, funny, coy, tender, yet still managing to deliver hard truths, and deal with the unfortunate compromises of pre-adulthood. But it comes out grinning, so in the end, it’s a feel-good flick.
The movie’s original title, Fucking Åmål, refers to the township where the story takes place, a cul-de-sac of arts and culture, thus “fucking Åmål” is precisely where the girls are stuck fast and would do anything for a touch of excitement. The movie was renamed (after the song playing over the closing credits) for international release, and not surprisingly, considering the number of awards it earned, it was inevitable major international distributors would insist the title be changed to something more commercially marketable.
Show Me Love film review by Bryn Tilly of www.cultprojections.com