She Monkeys (Apflickorna) (12A)

The ViewNewcastle Review

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Review byMatthew Turner18/05/2012

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 83 mins

Captivating and powerfully emotional, this is a strikingly assured debut from director Lisa Aschan with a pair of terrific performances from newcomers Mathilda Paradeiser and Linda Molin and a scene-stealing turn from young Isabella Lindquist.

What's it all about?
Co-written and directed by Lisa Aschan (making her debut), She Monkeys (Apflickorna, original title fans) is a Swedish coming-of-age drama that plays like an intriguing mash-up of Show Me Love, Water Lillies and Tomboy. Mathilda Paradeiser (who looks a lot like Emma Watson) stars as Emma, a 15 year old girl who joins her local equestrian acrobatics team and finds herself drawn to beautiful, more mature team-mate Cassandra (Linda Molin).

As the pair begin a tentative friendship, a complex, hormonally-charged and increasingly tense power game ensues, laced with competitiveness, jealousy and desire. Meanwhile, with their single father frequently absent, Emma's adorable seven year old sister Sara (Isabella Lindquist) attempts to deal with her own powerful crush on her baby-sitting cousin Sebastian (Kevin Caicedo Vega).

The Good
Newcomers Paradeiser and Molin are both excellent, generating palpable and increasingly dangerous chemistry together, while the script's minimal dialogue approach allows much of their relationship to be played out through strikingly effective gestures, glances and facial expressions. However, the film is completely stolen by young Isabella Lindquist, whose sub-plot unfolds largely separately to the main story and provides several laugh-out-loud funny moments (her excruciating dance scene is one of several highlights).

Aschan creates a heady, powerful atmosphere throughout that's fraught with sexual tension and unpredictability – as a result, although the coming-of-age territory may seem familiar on the surface, the expected scenes don't always play out the way you expect. This is particularly notable in a sequence where Cassandra dares Emma to seduce an unfortunate teenager (Adam Lundgren as Jens) they pick up at the swimming pool.

The Great
Aschan's control of her material is assured throughout, aided by striking cinematography from Linda Wassberg and a subtle score from Sami Sänpäkkilä; the film's final shot is particularly brilliant, accompanied by an inspired soundtrack choice.

Worth seeing?
Impressively directed and superbly acted, She Monkeys is a powerfully emotional coming-of-age drama that marks director Lisa Aschan out as a talent to watch. Highly recommended.

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She Monkeys (Apflickorna) (12A)
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Content updated: 24/07/2012 03:44

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