Show Me Love

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Show Me Love

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Show Me Love

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Cued right at the swelling chorus of a particularly overwrought Foreigner single, Swedish director Lukas Moodysson's Show Me Love has the best stolen kiss in recent memory, an electrifying moment that puts a fine point on his keen observations about adolescent love. Like the use of Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" in Say Anything... or the Pretenders singles in Whatever—not coincidentally, two other great youth films—the song becomes part of a mix tape the characters create around their own lives, an ambiance in which to savor intense emotions. That Rebecka Liljeberg, a closeted lesbian teen in a small town called Amal, would also include a lot of Morrissey on her soundtrack speaks to her lower registers. Cast out by her peers, who are generally more interested in comparing cell-phone sizes or other trendy pursuits, Liljeberg fantasizes about Alexandra Dahlström, a popular girl grappling with a major conformist streak; in an early scene, she flies into a tantrum when she discovers that a Stockholm magazine has put raves on their "Out" list. The one thing they have in common is a mutual frustration with where they're at, which explains the film's more evocative (if unusable) original title, Fucking Amal. The obstacles that keep them from getting together are predictable—cruelty and self-absorption are at the center of just about every teen film—but Moodysson has a more nuanced handle on the high-school caste system than most. Even Liljeberg, the sympathetic outsider, says horrible things to her disabled friend, who's a rung below her on the social ladder. But these details only serve to heighten the love story, which is triumphantly sweet in a way adult romances can never really be, perhaps because adolescent passion is so optimistic, unguarded by experience. As someone who must have grown up with Foreigner on the radio, the 30-year-old Moodysson revisits that feeling with bracing accuracy and no small measure of nostalgia.

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