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LILYA 4-EVER

A desperate Soviet teenager falsely accused of being a whore is tricked by an uncrupulous countryman into fleeing to Sweden, where she is in fact forced into prostitution.


CAST: Oksana Akinshina, Ljubov Agapova, Artiom Bogucharskij, Elina Beninson, Lilia Shinkareva, Pavel Ponomarev, Tomas Neumann

DIRECTOR: Lukas Moodysson

"In many ways the 16-year-old title character of Lukas Moodysson's great, heartbreaking ‘Lilya 4-Ever’ could be any throwaway teenager living anywhere in the world. But growing up in a grim unidentified town somewhere in the former Soviet Union makes Lilya's plight infinitely sadder than if she were an overprivileged brat mopily foraging in a land of plenty...The most remarkable achievement of the film, which opens today in Manhattan and Los Angeles, is its presentation of Lilya's story as both an archetypal case study and a personal drama whose spunky central character you come to care about so deeply that you want to cry out a warning at each step toward her ruination...For all its explictness (including two rape scenes), ‘Lilya 4-Ever’ never feels exploitative." --Stephen Holden, The New York Times

"As with ‘Together,’ Moodysson has pulled off a staggering dramatic coup, and again we are forced to ask: How does he do it? A quarter of an hour ago, we had never encountered this girl…Yet here we are, sitting in the dark and worrying, to a quite insane degree, about Lilya’s fate, and begging that it will not brim with harm…Lukas Moodysson, like Dostoevsky before him, and like Robert Bresson in his great film ‘Mouchette,’ finds a core of goodness in one young woman that embarrasses and damns the predatory spirits who hover around and peck at her. I want to see ‘Lilya 4-Ever’ one more time, but I’m not sure that I can take it." --Anthony Lane, The New Yorker

"While Lukas Moodysson's third feature, ‘Lilya 4-Ever,’ is starkly modern in its look, feel and cynical regard of the post-wall Eastern bloc, it ends up relying on the oldest of Hollywood cliches for capturing its audience: a face. The nubile Oksana Akinshina, whose experience had been limited to Russian television, arrives with the inscrutable allure of Garbo and the eloquent impassivity of Isabelle Huppert…the actress also distracts from our asking the question of exactly what point Moodysson is trying to make…The faux- spiritual elements Moodysson injects into ‘Lilya 4-Ever’ are less convincing than the blunt grimness of its main plotline. But he probably knew he needed to give us a break." --Newsday

"As demonstrated in his teenage drama ‘Show Me Love’ (a/k/a ‘Fucking Åmål’) and hippie commune comedy ‘Together,’ Moodysson is an empathetic director of kids, with a particular interest in outcast children. ‘Show Me Love’ and ‘Together’ were a bit sentimental for my taste; the brutally overdetermined ‘Lilya’ demonstrates that he can go to the other extreme. Forget ‘Irreversible,’ this is the season's most piercingly feel-bad movie." --J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

"I can't think of another good movie this year that's as tough to watch as Moodysson's, but, then, I can't think of very many movies that are as good…The film is almost too painful to watch and, at the same time, impossible not to, which is the point…There's a kind of perverse purity in his refusal to flinch at Lilya's tribulations, but there are moments in the film, as when she falls literally into the mud after her mother leaves, which seem not just overwrought but unnecessary…like all good movies, it possesses an artistry that helps the film transcend the bleakness of its subject. This isn't an easy film -- only a memorable one." --Manohla Dargis, The Los Angeles Times

"It's a despairing movie that you can't look away from, though you'll wish you could, and which sheds light on the sex-slave traffic that brings poor women from the former Soviet Union to the West…Akinshina, a beauty on the order of Anna Kournikova, is a terrific actress who manages, amid the bleakness of her scenes, to create a fully dimensional portrait of a confused teenager who loses her innocence and virtually all hope, but never her pride." --Jack Mathews, The New York Daily News