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Fucking Amal

The feature debut of acclaimed 20-year-old poet Lukas Moodysson, the provocatively titled " Fucking Amal" is a small gem. A sensitive, funny and bittersweet story about growing up in a small town, pic deals with universal subjects that should certainly strike a chord with buyers and audiences in other countries.

The feature debut of acclaimed 20-year-old poet Lukas Moodysson, the provocatively titled ” Fucking Amal” is a small gem. A sensitive, funny and bittersweet story about growing up in a small town, pic deals with universal subjects that should certainly strike a chord with buyers and audiences in other countries.

Writer-director Moodysson has penned several books and made a couple of short films, but none of them on a level of maturity that distinguishes this notable picture. A tiny burg in western Sweden, Amal plays no part per se in the film. Instead, it’s a symbol for the kind of place where youngsters grow up feeling trapped, where as teenagers they are expected to have already found their partners for life and where they’re supposed to be content spending Saturday night in front of the television.

One of these kids is pretty, 15-year-old Elin (Alexandra Dahlstrom), who desperately wants something to happen in her life. She’s been going out with lots of guys at school but still hasn’t “gone all the way.” Her older sister, Jessica (Erica Carlson), is going steady and sleeps with macho-man Markus (Stefan Horberg).

Several people are in love with Elin. One is Johan (Mathias Rust), a friend of Markus’, and another is Agnes (Rebecca Liljeberg), who moved to Amal more than a year ago but still hasn’t made any friends. In her computer diary, Agnes records her deeply felt love for Elin.

Story kicks in with Agnes reluctantly holding her 15th birthday party on the insistence of her well-meaning mom. Agnes, rumored to be a lesbian, doesn’t think anybody will show up, and events lead to Elin and Jessica being the only ones who do. Feeling awkward, Elin and Jessica decide to pull a prank on Agnes: Elin kisses her passionately and then the two sisters run off to another party. Feeling guilty, Elin later returns to Agnes’ house and asks her forgiveness. The two girls take a walk, get to know each other and end up kissing again — this time for real.

After Elin pretends she’s been with Johan, Jessica pushes Elin and Johan into a relationship which ends with them sleeping together. Feeling betrayed, Agnes starts to insult Elin at school, and, when rumors that she is in love with Elin reach Agnes’ parents, Elin must decide whether she should follow her heart or stick with the traditional way of living in ” fucking Amal. ”

The young helmer probes the minds of the teenage girls with surprising sensitivity, telling a moving story of first love. Pic is not a “gay movie” per se, and the lesbian angle is not over-stressed: Like Amal, lesbianism is a metaphor, in this case for doing something unusual — and ultimately liberating — in a conservative setting. Pic’s only false note comes in the final sequence, with a couple of very predictable lines that are disposable.

Moodysson’s lineup of young, inexperienced actresses is excellent, especially Dahlstrom and Liljeberg as the two lovers. Unlike many other youth-centered pix, this one also portrays the parents and other adults in believable, un-cliched terms.

Tech credits are fine, with special mention to lenser Ulf Brantas (“The Women on the Roof”), whose grainy, hand-held close-ups give another edge to this fine film. Title stems from the fact that English and American swear words often find their way into Swedish teenagers’ conversations nowadays.

Fucking Amal

Swedish

  • Production: A Sonet Film release (in Sweden) of a Memfis Film production, in association with Zentropa Prods. (Denmark), Film i Vast and SVT Drama Goteborg. (International sales: Memfis Film, Stockholm.) Produced by Lars Jonsson. Co-producer, Peter Aalbaek Jensen. Directed, written by Lukas Moodysson.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Ulf Brantas; editors, Michal Leszcykowski, Bernhard Winkler; music, Robyn, Lars Gullin, Broder Daniel and others; production designers, Lina Strand, Heidi Saikkonen; costume designer, Maria Swenson; sound (Dolby SR), Nils Nilsson. Reviewed at Astoria, Stockholm, Oct. 9, 1998. Running time: 89 MIN. Elin - Alexandra Dahlstrom Agnes - Rebecca Liljeberg Jessica - Erica Carlson Johan - Mathias Rust Markus - Stefan Horberg Viktoria - Josefin Nyberg Olof, Agnes' father - Ralph Carlsson Karin, Agnes' mother - Maria Hedborg Oskar, Agnes" brother - Axel Widegren Birgitta, Elin's mother - Jill Ung Camilla - Lisa Skagerstam Elin's friends - Johanna Larsson,Elinor Johansson, Jessica Melkersson, Lina Svantesson
  • With: Elin - Alexandra Dahlstrom Agnes - Rebecca Liljeberg Jessica - Erica Carlson Johan - Mathias Rust Markus - Stefan Horberg Viktoria - Josefin Nyberg Olof, Agnes' father - Ralph Carlsson Karin, Agnes' mother - Maria Hedborg Oskar, Agnes' brother - Axel Widegren Birgitta, Elin's mother - Jill Ung Camilla - Lisa Skagerstam Elin's friends - Johanna Larsson,Elinor Johansson, Jessica Melkersson, Lina Svantesson
  • Music By: