THROWBACK REVIEW- Lilja 4-ever: On huffing glue, forced prostitution and checking your privilege



TW’S: Sex Work

When I first came across this film, I was just looking into Scandinavian cinema and trying to find some fun or cultish type flicks, little did I know I would come across one of the most heartbreaking and grittily awakening films I have ever seen.

Lilja is a sixteen year old (the same age as me) living in an unnamed town in Estonia. Her Mum has fled to the states and left her behind in what most people would describe as a shithole. Sunless and grey, run down and boring. She is now forced to live in a damp, squat little flat with hardly any money for food. Like the film gummo, there isn’t much to do exept huff glue with your friends, and you can’t get a job til you’ve left school, which is uninspiring and frequently missed. Her two friends are Natasha and Volodya. Volodya is a lonely little neighbourhood boy and Natasha is frequently prostituting herself, encouraging Lilja to do the same, with the appeal of buying nice new clothes. Lilja is not interested, but it soon becomes clear, with her lack of money for basic living requirements and the ever fading hope of ever getting out of this hell, that this is the path she must take.

Directed by the outspoken feminist and committed Christian Lucas Moodysson, (and he is Swedish, seriously Sweden why are you such a perfect country??) we really get a taste for what the director feels about the issues raised in Lilja. The Christian elements of the film are always touching and personally comforting to me, even though I’m not devoutly religious. The role of Lilja is extremely well and very realistically acted by the beautiful Oksana Akinshina, I highly recommend this film, but not when you are looking for a fun uplifting Friday night type flick!

Lilja 4-ever is the shocking slap in the face I have meaning to have for all of my life. After watching it I had a new found appreciation for the life that I have been given, and though mine is not always perfect, I must remember that there are girls like Lilja who would love to have my opportunities and privileges. Bleakly compelling, It is a very very important film which highlights the modern day slavery that is all around us, forced prostitution. Do not trust every ‘nice guy’ you come across.
If you ever thought that it was ‘their fault’ that such unforunate peoples lives turned out to be like Lilja’s, you will be rudely awakened while watching this heartfelt, sad and brutally realistic film.

By Katie

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