Competition Lukas Moodysson
For its compassionate dealing with the great problem of human trafficking and a girl''s struggle to keep her dreams alive.
Lilya 4-ever is a 2002 Swedish drama film. It is director Lukas Moodysson''s third feature film which marks a sharp change of mood from his previous two films, the uplifting love story Show Me Love and Together, a comedy set in the 1970s. Lilya 4-ever is an unremittingly brutal and realistic story of the downward spiral of Lilya, played by Oksana Akinshina, a girl in the former Soviet Union whose mother abandons her to move to the United States. The story is loosely based on a true case and examines the issue of human trafficking and sexual slavery.
The film received positive reviews both in Sweden and abroad. It won five Guldbagge Awards including Best Film, and was nominated for Best Film and Best Actress at the European Film Awards.
The film starts with a figure running desperately towards a motorway bridge, with a factory belching smoke in the background, to a soundtrack of Mein Herz brennt by Rammstein. When the figure turns around the film introduces the audience to Lilya, who has recently been brutally beaten. The film reveals her past.
Lilya lives a fairly bleak life with her mother in a run down apartment block, but for all intents and purposes is a normal teenage girl (albeit an impoverished one). Lilya''s mother tells her they are emigrating to the United States with her new boyfriend, but at the last minute Lilya is left behind, in the care of her aunt. A forced move into a squalid flat (while the Aunt moves herself into the larger, nicer flat that Lilya and her mother had lived in) is only the beginning, and a succession of miseries are heaped upon Lilya. Lilya''s best friend encourages her to join her in prostituting herself for extra cash, though Lilya decides not to follow through. However, when the friend''s father finds the money the friend claims that she was the one who sat at the bar while Lilya prostituted herself. Not content with ruining Lilya''s reputation at home, the story soon goes round school. As Lilya has been abandoned, she now really does have to prostitute herself for money to live. One glimmer of hope is her friend Volodya (Artyom Bogucharsky), abused and rejected by his alcoholic father, with whom she forms a tender protective relationship. She buys Volodya a basketball with money she has earned as a prostitute, but Volodya''s father punctures it with a pair of scissors. Another glimmer of hope is Andrei (Pavel Ponomaryov), who becomes her boyfriend and offers her a job in Sweden. But all is not what it seems, and only bad things await Lilya when she arrives there.
After arriving in Sweden, she is greeted by her future "employer" (in reality, a pimp) and taken to a nearly empty apartment where he imprisons her. Lilya is raped by the pimp and she is then forced to perform sexual acts for her pimp''s clients, while he reaps all the financial gain; all the abuse is seen from Lilya''s point of view.
Meanwhile in the former Soviet Union, Volodya commits suicide, devastated that Lilya had abandoned him. In the form of an angel, Volodya comes to Lilya to look over her. On Christmas Day, he transports Lilya to the roof of the apartment, and, in a moving scene, he gives Lilya the world as a present, but she simply finds it cold and unwelcoming. After one escape attempt Lilya is brutally beaten by her pimp, but she then escapes again with the help of Volodya. Finally, and much to the distress of Volodya (who regrets having killed himself) she commits suicide herself in the continuation of the scene from the beginning of the film by jumping from the bridge.
The film''s conclusion shows Lilya and Volodya, now both dead, angelic and happily playing basketball on the roof of some tenement building, safe from all harm the world can do to them.