By Ajay Singh, on November 5, 2010
Director: Lukas Moodysson
Cast: Artyom Bogucharsky, Liliya Shinkaryova, Lyubov Agapova, Oksana Akinshina
Language: Russian, English, Swedish
Awards: Stockholm Film Festival, Rouen Nordic Film Festival, Gijón International Film Festival, Guldbagge Awards
Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards, Robert Festival, Political Film Society, European Film Awards, Chlotrudis Awards, Guldbagge Awards, Nordic Council
A brilliant effort by Swedish director Lukas Moodysson, Lilya 4 Ever is a heart-wrenching movie that fills you with empathy for the 16-year old Russian girl Lilya, played by Oksana Akinshina, who has done an excellent job of portraying the role of a young girl who is left to fend for herself in a ruthless world where human values have no meaning. Moodysson couldn’t have done more justice to the film than what he has already done in it; leaving in our minds an impression so powerful that the mere thought of the girl’s suffering is overwhelming to a point of tears.
Lilya lives with her mother in a tiny apartment and she spends her days like many other teenagers like herself, missing school, getting together with friends and sniffing glue. She also has a boyfriend, Volodya (Artyom Bogucharsky), who is younger than her and they all hang out in an old decrepit Soviet military base, which is no longer in use. Then one day her mother tells her that they would be leaving for the United States where her Russian boyfriend is based and Lilya is delighted that they will at last have a better living. What the poor girl does not know is that this news is the beginning of her misery.
She is happy to be leaving behind this miserable life of poverty and suffering, but her happiness is short-lived because when the actual day arrives, her mother decides that she will go to the States without her daughter, but she promises to call for her soon. Lilya pleads to be taken along and runs after the car taking her mother to the airport, but it seems her pleas fall on deaf ears as her mother’s heart seems to have turned to stone because she does not look back even once at her desperately crying daughter. Lilya realizes that she will never join her mother again.
Left to fend for herself, lost and homeless, as her aunt takes over the apartment kicking out Lilya from her own house, the girl is forced to live in a small cramped flat and she turns to a nightclub for earning some fast cash. Here she befriends a young girl. Now Lilya’s only concern is to earn quick money and spend it on junk food and she is also able to buy a football for her only friend and companion, Volodya. Their’s is the only relationship that has some love, bonding and understanding, every other relationship is only a reflection of the inhuman.
Then again comes another terrible moment in Lilya’s life when the sweet-spoken Andrei (Pavel Ponomaryov) asks her to come away with him to Sweden. The unsuspecting Lilya, who has to make her own decisions, agrees to go with him only to find that Sweden is a much worse place than Russia and prostitution seems to be the only kind of living available here. The girl falls into yet another trap and her sorrows grow deeper than before and she has no other choice but to adopt prostitution as the only way to survive in this alien country.
The whole story is so touching and powerful that it shakes you to the roots, giving you something to ponder about. It screams out to those who talk of humanitarian rights telling them that here is a world that has not known such a thing. The film is worth viewing provided you have the courage and the heart to see the pain and sorrow of the 16-year old Lilya whose life is exploited to the brink of shame by humans themselves.
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