osprey_archer: (cheers)
[personal profile] osprey_archer
Show Me Love is a 1998 Swedish movie about a 15-year-old high school outcast and her crush on one of the most popular girls in school. It sounds totally cliche when I say it like that, but it was so well done (and in 1998, too!) - particularly Agnes the outcast, who was not the sweet sad blameless wish-fulfillment victim type you often see in these things, but hurt and angry in a way that feels very real in that it sometimes leads her to do deeply horrible things.

There’s one scene in particular - Agnes’s mother insists that Agnes have a birthday party. Only one girl shows up, Viktoria, who is also on the bottom of the high school social hierarchy - in her case because she uses a wheelchair. Agnes, in a fit of rage and despair at this party that has done nothing but dramatize what a miserable unloved outcast she is, refuses to accept Viktoria’s present. “We just pretend to be friends because there’s no one else to be with. You know what the most boring thing I’ve ever done is? When you took me to that wheelchair basketball game in Karlstad,” Agnes snarls.

At which point Viktoria turns her wheelchair right around and becomes Agnes’s sworn enemy, fanning the rumors that Agnes is a lesbian - which is 100% understandable, but nonetheless horrible. In fact all the teenage characters are sometimes horrible to each other in a way that would be totally repulsive in an older person, but it so clearly grows out of the fact that they are young and self-absorbed as young people are, and don't quite understand that other people are people yet.

It makes them feel real and sad rather than just straight up awful. And they aren’t just awful: they show sweetness and ludicrous youthful daring, too, like the scene where Agnes and her crush Elin almost run away to Stockholm together on a whim. (They are a little drunk - well, in Elin’s case, a lot drunk - and have not thought this through.) They felt very raw and real.

I was honestly stunned to learn the director was a man - not just because it has none of that male-gazy ickiness I tend to associate with male-directed movies about lesbians - but just because the movie is so clear-eyed and compassionate about teenage girls, even when they’re awful, even when Elin is giving her boyfriend merry hell as she tries to figure her sexuality out.

I’m not 100% convinced Agnes & Elin will last, but I do believe that they’ll have a fantastic, fascinating, sometimes brutal time dating, and that’s all I need from a movie about young teenagers. They don’t necessarily need to have found the loves of their lives; a love for right now is just fine.
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