Directed by Lukas Moodysson and released in it’s home country of Sweden in 2002.
Lilya 4-Ever opens with our protagonist, the 16-year-old Lilya, running through the streets. She’s battered, bruised and confused. Rammstein blasts through the soundtrack. She ends up at a bridge, incredibly contemplative of her next move. Then, the scene cuts to Estonia, three months earlier. The industrial metal is gone and heavy techno slowly dissolves onto the soundtrack and you’re left with the ambiguity of the first scene to play on your mind until the very end of the picture.
We meet Lilya on her way to America with her mother and her new boyfriend. All is not as it seems however as soon we realize that she won’t be going to America after all. At first, Lilya isn’t bothered at all but after mulling it over she runs after her mother begging her not to leave without her. Her mother leaves regardless, leaving her in the care of her old fashioned aunt who makes her stay in a dinghy flat as to a lack of money on both parties.
For the first hour and twenty minutes of the movie we come to adore this cute girl and her antics aswell as her growing friendship with the pre-pubescent Volodya – her only friend. As they become closer Lilya runs out of money and decides to take up prostitution, something we’re introduced to early on when she goes to a club with her friend who performs this act first. Little does she know this is something she will regret deeply in the months to come. That’s all I’ll say in terms of plot because that’s about as much as I want to give away.
The film is a testament to ambiguity and deep themes of religion and family run rampant through the film. Lilya never met her mother, is an only child and has just been abdandoned by her mother. The closest thing she has to family is Volodya and we slowly learn that he feels the exact same way about her. There are some absolutely incredibly scenes later on in the film, a montage of men thrusting on top of Lilya is undoubtedly one of the most eery scenes I’ve ever witnessed as it’s sheer power makes it stand out from the majority of the other scenes in the film. The piece comes full circle and the ending is just absolutely fantastic. The circle isn’t complete without absolute ambiguity and we get no less than that.
The final scenes are superb and Lukas Moodysson needs to be eternally applauded for all of his work on this film as does Oksana Akinshina who gives an unbelievable performance that stands out as one of my all time favourite female performances in the history of cinema.