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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 5.56%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 22.22%
Total Crap: 2.78%

1 review, 30 user ratings

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Lilya 4-ever
[] Buy posters from this movie
by The Ultimate Dancing Machine

"4-get it"
2 stars

(SCREENED AT THE 2003 PALM SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL.) Could somebody mail Sweden a few tons of Prozac already? Director Lukas Moodysson’s latest is an astonishingly morbid take on modern-day white slavery, dealing with the sexual exploitation of impoverished Russian girls. Not only is it a downer, it’s finally nothing BUT a downer, and it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Beginning in rather unpromising fashion, with the titular Lilja running frantically down the street as an absolutely terrible death metal song plays, the film soon settles into a cinema verite look at the lives of the Russian underclass. Pretty, naïve 16-year-old Lilja (pronounced, I think, “LIE La”) is forced to make do after her mother moves to America without her; her only companion is a younger boy who digs basketball, recreational drug use, and not much else. Here, Russia looks like outtakes from Gummo, complete with glue-sniffing episodes and pointless screwing-around, but Moodysson brings a certain authenticity to the proceedings; all this squalor looks convincing enough. He sometimes overplays his hand, which means we get a few cliché “poignant” moments with Lilja staring forlornly at a photo of her mother and so forth—but, at least in these early scenes, the film feels solid; it benefits from a fine sense of pacing.

With no real means of support, Lilja gradually drifts into prostitution, and the film itself begins to drift into dangerous territory. In detailing Lilja’s progressive degradation, Moodysson simply pushes too hard. He goes overboard to be “powerful” and “heartbreaking” (to list two adjectives that will likely appear on the film poster); there’s something almost pornographic in the manner the film illustrates her predicament. It’s not that the sex scenes are graphic—in fact, they’re shot in a non-exploitative way—but we’re not allowed to do anything but feel sorry for poor Lilja. It’s too manipulative; it’s simply another kind of voyeurism. The film offers no more insight into the dark, dank world of teenage prostitution than Showgirls did into Las Vegas.

The ending is awful. I’m obliged to be vague here, but let’s just say everything gets resolved in the worst way imaginable; the film chokes to death on an excess of melodrama. (The audience I viewed it with gasped incredulously as the closing credits appeared.)

I suppose the film is well intentioned, but it doesn’t leave you indignant at social injustice. It leaves you wanting to take a shower.

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originally posted: 01/20/03 09:55:54
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2003 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/09/18 ellen Totally disagree with this review - it's almost unwatchable but absolutely effective 5 stars
8/12/04 Marc It really Rocked! 5 stars
3/01/04 planted planted 5 stars
2/18/04 Hellkix Watching this movie requires courage, but it's worth it. 5 stars
1/14/04 gökhan aylan best movie about capitalism 5 stars
11/09/03 Anthony vW A depressing but very worthwhile film 5 stars
10/30/03 gokhan aylan best movie about capitalism 5 stars
10/08/03 gokhan aylan 5 stars
8/12/03 aerha arg 5 stars
5/29/03 Flounder Crap 1 stars
5/21/03 john mackay best film about capitalism since "godfather part II" 5 stars
5/20/03 UDM To all you "real life" addicts: MOMMIE DEAREST was based on a true story, too. 2 stars
5/12/03 Line Hofoss Holm FUCK YOU "REVIEWER" - real life is actually worse! If you don't get it, I feel really sorry 5 stars
5/05/03 M People need to see the truth 5 stars
4/22/03 Silverline Not good. At all. 2 stars
4/21/03 Anthony Noble This film touched me deeply. 5 stars
4/19/03 Teresa 4 real, tragically. Prozac won't change it. 5 stars
4/17/03 JOW No movie has ever moved me like this one did 5 stars
4/17/03 Daniel Sad but true. After more than 15 stays in Russia I can say: Perfect. 5 stars
4/13/03 qotsa bad thing is,this is real life 5 stars
4/09/03 vojislav confronting,heavy,important,no hope,watch it! 4 stars
4/07/03 Martin Great but morbid, too bad that this is happening every day in real life 5 stars
3/21/03 Ave Ivanova great & important 5 stars
3/19/03 Natalie I thought lilja 4 ever was brillant, lucas is a great director / writer. 5 stars
3/13/03 mr. Pink Ultimate Dancing Machine is wrong on this one. It's brilliant! 5 stars
3/12/03 Kurt Karlsson 5 stars
3/11/03 Stina An excellent film about reality, a very tragic reality! 5 stars
2/06/03 Frysboxen Well, it IS worth at least 4 stars. And if you think the movie goes to far, well it ain't 4 stars
2/05/03 Mia Awesome, awful. The most scary thing with this movie is that it's based on a true story. 5 stars
2/03/03 gloria monti, ph.d. social despair takes the place of political ideology 5 stars
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  18-Apr-2003 (R)



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