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Lilja 4-ever (2002)

How long can you stay clean in a dirty world? — Written by olympiquetango on 11.05.2011

How long can you stay clean in a dirty world?
Loud music. A girl running. Tears in her eyes and despair. And blood on her young face. Hectic shots give you the feeling of panic, misery. The drama. Rammstein is singing “Mein Herz brennt”. Lilja is done. Motorway bridge. Jump or not?
The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of this movie is compassion. Lilja 4-ever captivated me. Made me sad, angry, made me feel helpless and weak. During this story that seems to be a passion I felt like screaming “no, don´t do it. Be careful”… in vain. You won´t find respite. You start to understand. This story will cover you in a cape of darkness. The days of light are over.
But before we see whether Lilja jumps or not Lukas Moodysson takes as to the time and place where the breakup starts. The story is plain, clear and without a shadow of a doubt a forcefully narrated melodrama but still drawn through with a different kind of seriousness.
Almost oneiric told, it reminds you sometimes of the movies of Robert Bressons with which it shares the same religious subtexts. Moodysson´s name was put on the map with his blitheful-sensitive movies “Fucking Åmål” and “Tilsammen”. Already in these movies the director proved himself as someone with a grasp for leading young actors and showing their juvenile interior view- the only ones he takes serious in his movies. The adult world seems like a nightmare. From the very beginning you can see a foreshadowing in Liljas 15 year old face. Lilja. This russian girl in the Ukraine. Where once the Sovjet Union was powerful now ruins assing the landscape. The promised land is called US of A. Lilja´s mother also wants a re-start. And when she gets the chance to, she even leaves her only child behind.
Lilja is left in a world where homo homini lupus est. Moodysson always manages to make a connection to the western world. Shows us, we are somehow responsible for the situation Lilja is stuck in without losing the focus on the girl and us feeling sorry for her. Most haunting here is Lilja´s hunger for happiness, her childish hoping and an angelesque innocence. And nevertheless she is lost:
She loses her home, tries drugs, grows lonely, sinks into poverty, gets betrayed multiple times and ends up as an illegal prostitute in Sweden. She tried to be away from all that so hard though. In one scene we see her throwing away a certain amount of “dirty” money she got from a “friend” although she needs it so much. A typical Moodysson scene. He is in love with his characters and in this case also in their agony…
The only friend Lilja has is an unloved little boy. And he is the only one who tries to save her in his own way. But the tragedy recaps. Like her mother left her, Lilja leaves her friend, who commits suicide.
The actress who plays Lilja- Oksana Akinshina- does an awesome job. Lilja appears smart and real.
Stylistically Lilja 4 ever is narrated fast and straight-lined. What starts like a Popmovie gets more and more penurious and concentraded. The main focus is on Lilja. Every now and then the camera deepens in her face. The music is like the rollercoaster of emotions the viewer is in; from Vivaldi to t.a.T.u. to Alphaville to Rammstein…
Lilja is escaping more and more into a dreamworld. At the end we see all the right decisions that have not been made in this life. And then Lilja is done, standing on a bridge. “Mein Herz brennt”…

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