Girls Lost (Pojkarna) movie review: girls found

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Girls Lost green light

MaryAnn’s quick take…

A beautiful film with a wonderful young cast that flows with sinister sorcery and tender sympathy for the physical and emotional upheavals of adolescence.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): I’m desperate for stories about girls
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
I have not read the source material
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Fourteen-year-old Kim (Tuva Jagell) and her friends Bella (Wilma Holmén) and Momo (Louise Nyvall) are absolutely inseparable, united by deep affection and years-long ties as much as they are by a shared status as the school misfits: when they aren’t getting ignored in their small-town Swedish school, they’re getting picked on, often in ways that cross over into violent sexual harassment by the boys. But when a magical plant, seemingly summoned by their pain and their desire for happier lives, appears in the greenhouse that is their tranquil getaway spot, they get a taste of how life might have been different: after drinking the plant’s nectar, they wake up as boys! (As boys, Kim, Bella, and Momo are played respectively by Emrik Öhlander, Vilgot Ostwald Vesterlund and Alexander Gustavsson. All six young actors are wonderful.) The affect is only temporary, but what an eye-opening adventure to pass through their brutal teen society with a power and a privilegetweet typically denied them… and to get an inside glimpse at the secret pains that boys are suffering, too.

Imagine Orlando’s sex change achieved with Harry Potter’s polyjuice potion…

Writer and director Alexandra-Therese Keining — working from a novel by Jessica Schiefauer that does not appear to have been translated into English — has woven a beautiful film that flows with sinister sorcery and tender sympathy for the physical and emotional upheavals of adolescence. Both light with whimsy and sharp with insight — imagine Orlando’s sex change achieved with Harry Potter’s polyjuice potion — Girls Lost’s fantasy fuels a very grounded and freshly honest exploration of sexual fluiditytweet and the honing of sexual identity that comes in teenhood, one that will speak to adults as well as those still in those awful postpuberty throes. Bullying, grief (Bella’s mother has died, and all three girls feel her loss), stifling gender expectations, and near emotional abandonment by parents and teachers just as kids need them most are onerous weights around the girls’ psyches, yet they make the confidence they develop and the self-awareness they earn all the more poignant and hard-won.

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