Review of “Show Me Love”

 
 

This is the genius of Show Me Love: it lays bare the worst of human behavior and leaves you feeling that there's still hope for the human race anyway. It accomplishes this by refusing to make cardboard cutouts of its characters, instead showing that everyone is capable of good and evil under the right circumstances.

For example, Elin tells everyone at a party that kissing Agnes was "horrible" to keep anyone from thinking she liked it, and then cruelly breaks up with Johann, a boy who is desperately in love with her, for showing weakness in standing up to his friend. Agnes is vicious to Victoria at her birthday party, but forgiving of Elin when she apologizes later for the dare. Viktoria is initially supportive of Agnes' love for Elin, then tells everyone at school about it after Agnes verbally attacks her.

Agnes' mother is very positive about lesbianism until she finds out her daughter is one, at which point she becomes worried and upset and violates her own ethics by reading Agnes' journal.

These are just some of the ways in which Show Me Love demonstrates the power of context, timing, and luck in determining our behavior.

Unlike so many other films, which gloss over or sugarcoat the effects of teenage cruelty, Show Me Love is unflinchingly honest in showing the serious and long-term scars that it can create. From suicide to drug and alcohol abuse to dreams deferred, the film is artful in its ability to demonstrate the damage cruelty can inflict, without ever veering into preachiness.

Another film about teenage lesbian love, All Over Me, addresses the same subject, but set in a big city (New York). There are some clear parallels between these two films, as both are gritty, honest portrayals of teenage life, both require the particular location in which they're set to tell their story, and both are excellent films. All Over Me is less concerned with showing the co-existence of good and evil in its characters, however, focusing more on the impact of an individual's actions, while Show Me Love revolves more around the power of group behavior.

Show Me Love is not without its flaws — it is full of loose ends, maintains an erratic pace, and transitions abruptly in some places. But somehow, these things seem to work for the movie, instead of against it. The lack of a polished, Hollywood-style feeling only makes the story seem that much more realistic, but at the same time the film never comes across as amateur or low-budget.

Show Me Love is at its most powerful in demonstrating that finding a kindred soul is instrumental to getting you through the ugliness, even helping you rise above it. This is the larger message the movie imparts: cruelty and ugliness exist, but so do love and beauty.

For Agnes and Elin, who finally find this beauty and love in each other, their relationship becomes not just a luxury, but a necessity.

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