Lilya, 16-years old, lives with her mother in a run down apartment block somewhere in a former republic of the Soviet Union. She dreams of a much better life like any other teenage girl. Lilya’s mother emigrates to the United States with her new boyfriend, but Lilya is left behind. She has to move to a squalid flat, without receiving any news nor money from her mother. She befriends Volodya, a homeless young boy. They share the flat and try to make the best of their situation. Sniffing glue and wandering in the projects, Lilya soon falls into prostitution in a nightbar to survive, in an escalation of despair. There she meets Andrei, a businessman from Sweden, and falls in love with him. The man offers her a job and lodging in Sweden. The “better life” he promised soon shows its true face.
With his first two feature efforts, Fucking Åmål (1998) and Together (2000), Swedish filmmaker Lukas Moodysson earned a strong following for his acute, gentle sense of social satire and his remarkably well-drawn and sympathetic characters. Though his third feature, the soul-shredding Lilja 4-Ever, marked a notably dark turn in terms of content for Moodysson, his sense of characterization was perhaps stronger than ever, and the stark tale of a young Russian girl forced into prostitution gained him international acclaim. A native of the South Sweden burg of Lund, Moodysson was the son of hardworking farmers who hailed from the small community of Smaland. When the opportunity arose for Moodysson’s father to study engineering in the 1960s, he relocated to the university town of Lund, funding his education with work at a local hardware store; it was there that Karl Frederik Lukas Moodysson was born in January of 1969. The future director was exposed to an early film influence at age 12 when… read more
Not as good as I had hoped. I always really love the casting choices in Moodyssons films, he chooses average normal people and it brings a lot of realism and grit to his work. But I just felt like this was a shove-as-much-depressing-shit-as-you-can-in-as-less-time-as-possible film. Like if I wanted that I would go watch some soaps. Don't get me wrong; still a good film. Just not his best.
Moodysson very loosely based this film on the life of Dangoule Rasalaite, a 16-year-old Lithuanian, who, in 1999, was being kept in a Swedish apartment against her will and forced into prostitution… read review