Lilya 4-ever (2002) is the third film by Lukas Moodysson. This film is much darker than his previous two films. His first feature is Show Me Love (1998); or the original Swedish title Fucking, Amal; which is a more exciting title then the prudish Show Me Love. The original title is referring to the town of Amal. This first feature is a tender coming of age story about two girls, one popular the other not, who awkwardly fall in love. Lukas’ second feature is called Together (2000). Together is about a commune in the 1960’s, who come face to face with ideals and coming face to face with the limits of ideals. These two films will put a smile on your face unlike Lilya 4-ever.
This film shows Lilya’s progression into prostitution and sex trafficking. Lilya lives in an unnamed town in the Soviet Union, and is excited to move to the states with her mom and her mom’s new boyfriend, she meet online. The mother and her boyfriend leave for the states, while Lilya is told she has to stay behind and wait before she can go state side.
While Lilya stays behind her aunt is supposed to check up on her. The aunt does come to check on Lilya a few times but eventually stops coming by. The money promised, by mother, never comes. The electricity gets turned off and there is nothing to eat. Lilya goes to a club to find men who will pay for sex. She finds someone. With the money she gets from prostituting herself; she can buy food, cigarettes and a present for her friend Voloyda.
One night Andrei, a man from the club, offers Lilya a ride home. She accepts. Andrei is the guy of her dreams and promises a better life with a job in Sweden. Lilya gets conned into going to Sweden for a better life but she soon finds out she had the better life back in the Soviet Union. The pimp in Sweden takes her from client to client. Lilya does get away but where will she go? The film soon ends around this time.
This is possible Moodysson’s best film. Moodysson knows how to make the view smile or tear up at different moments. While watching this movie one cannot help but be reminded of the films by Lars Von Trier. With this comparison the question to be asked is: why does this film not have as much international acclaim as the films of Lars Von Trier? With that said, this film is not available in America.
There are some criticisms of the film. One of the criticisms is about the wings in the dream/vision sequence. The other is the song in the beginning and end of the film. The wings in the dream/vision sequence are a little cheesy. It might have been more effective if Moodysson went for a Wings of Desire feel, using black and white. The other criticism is the use of Rammenstien at the beginning and end of the film. It does seem to work but one does wonder what those sequences would be like with a different song, and not a metal song.
Some praises of this film are how it is an intense movie but is not explicit or shocking but still manages to be effective. The scene of Lilya’s first time prostituting herself is done in a close up of her face, showing her anguish and disgust. There is also the montage of Lilya going from client to client. This montage is done in mid shots of different men in the “act”. From this one just feels the disgust of the sex going on. There is also the pimp. He is not sensationalized in the film. He does not hit Lilya ever time she acts out, but when he does the violence happens off screen but is still felt after the fact. Also this film gives a face and a story to an epidemic that can seem faceless with the vast amount of children ending up in this situation. If one watches past the credits the film is dedicated to all the children who get trafficked each year.
Unfortunately, as state before, this film is not available in America, but can be found online, through torrents. Moodysson’s first and second features; Show Me Love and Together; are available on Netflix or DVD. Mammoth (2009), which is his latest feature staring the amazing Michelle Williams, is on DVD and may still be on Netflix, if interested in the films of Lukas Moodysson.
here is a link for the trailer http://mubi.com/films/lilya-4-ever