"Show Me Love": Movie, DVD Review

11/18/2009 Posted by Admin

Movie, DVD Review

"Show Me Love"

Written and directed by Lukas Moodysson, 89 minutes.

By our guest blogger, Katherine Martinez

The 1998 film "Show Me Love" is a cliché story of preteen angst that tries to focus on more unconventional elements of sexuality and gender through two middle school stereotypes--the popular girl, Elin (Alexandra Dahlstrom), and her outcast counterpart, Agnes (Rebecca Liljeberg). The not-so-typical aspect of the relationship is offered in the first frame as we are introduced to the plain Agnes, who is typing out her “secret list” of goals--to not have to have a party, for Elin to see her and for Elin to fall in love with her.

The next cut jumps to a pretty blond, who we can assume to be the Elin, as she discovers during breakfast before school that her sister has finished the last of the chocolate milk and subsequently throws a jug of plain milk at her head. An angry scuffle ensues, only to be interrupted by their exasperated single mother who is upset at the early morning disagreement because they know that “she was up all night working.” Later, a slow minute allows us to watch Elin quietly cleaning up the mess by herself. Compare this to Agnes in the following moments. It is her birthday and she is woken up by a doting father with a present in hand--it is not only a CD that he knew she wanted, but he has gone ahead and listened to it to understand her interests. Additionally, he has printed out invitations for a birthday party that her mother wants to host for her.

The juxtaposition of the two girls continues as they walk through the school halls. Agnes has a difficult time finding anyone to hand her party invitation to because she has so few friends. On the other hand, Elin appears to be the pubescent teen dream. She is confident, pretty and surrounded by girls and boys who adore her. Despite all this she wants more and gripes to friends in the cafeteria, “Life is so boring, I’m going to die!” This is quite contrary to the discontent that Agnes expresses later when she has a fit of self-pity during her party and tells off the one and only guest who shows, a wheelchair-bound girl, by yelling, “You know the most boring thing I’ve ever done? Watch wheelchair basketball!”

As the movie continues, the lesbian relationship between the two young girls does, in fact, begin to develop. Still, it is not exactly clear whether Elin harbors the same love as Agnes or is just enjoying the excitement of the forbidden.

In a sense, this movie can be summed up by the symbolism of what the girls have for dinner. Elin and her sister are left at home alone by their mother whose parting words let them know that she has bought crisps and soda pop for them if they stay in. On the reverse, Agnes is interrupted as she listens to classical music and reads Edith Sodergran by her mother, who has made roast beef and a full meal for the family and friends she believes will come to the party later. Moments like these show the subtlety that Moodysson works so hard to employ. In two scenes, we see why Elin is loud and seeks attention in school, or how the sheltered and intelligent Agnes finds it difficult to connect with her peers.

The plot of “Show Me Love” does tend to move slowly and the characters can be painful to watch. Aside from that, the late '90s grungy soundtrack is great and the movie is worth watching for the fantastic depiction of years most of us do not remember fondly (but can hopefully laugh at now). Unfortunately, Moodysson's characters are either predictable or wholly unrealistic in their actions.

Since “Show Me Love,” Moodysson has explored different family units and the ways in which the individual is both supported and damned by those that love them the most. The reviews for his most recent movie, “Mammoth,” have so far not been great--it appears to be another “Babel”-esque intertwining of stories that might prove irritating. It does seem as though the actors chosen for the leads are also pretty unsurprising. The one factor that would make “Mammoth” an item of curiosity would be the fact that Moodysson continues to find darker paths into his stories, as we have witnessed with “Container.”

View the trailer for "Show Me Love" here:

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