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Girls Lost

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Reviewer:  Freda Cooper

Director:  Alexandra-Therese Keining

Stars:  Tuva Jagell, Louise Nyvall, Wilma Holmen, Emrik Ohlander, Alexander Gustavsson, Vilgot Ostwald Vesterlund

Certificate: 15

Released 4th November 2016

 

It was more of a question of “when” rather than “if”.  With Scandi noir a regular on both the small and big screen, it was only a matter of time before we had Scandi YA.  But, being Scandi, it was never going to be the YA we’re used to.

Alexandra-Therese Keining’s ‘Girls Lost’ starts off like a modern fairy tale, with three teenage girls who are inseparable friends.  So inseparable that the boys at school brand them lesbians and subject them to constant mockery and bullying.  Away from the torments of school, one of the girls, Bella (Wilma Holmen) is keen on gardening and among her latest seed order discovers one large mysterious seed.  Once planted, it erupts overnight into a plant with a large, black flower, its buds dripping with mysterious nectar.  The girls can’t resist a taste and it has a remarkable effect.  It turns them into boys.

Given the bullying, it’s a welcome opportunity to infiltrate the group of boys and find a way of fighting back.  But here comes the dark side.  Kim (Tuva Jagell), the most boyish of the three with her gamine looks and short hair, is deeply confused about her sexuality.  Changing into a boy is a revelation for her, especially when she becomes obsessed with one of the real boys, but it’s a dangerous relationship, one that adds to her confusion and undermines the female trio to the point of destruction.

A film in three acts, ‘Girls Lost’ takes its time in building up to its climax.  And it steers you up a frustratingly blind alley or two along the way.  In an early scene, Momo (Louise Nyvall) makes striking monochrome masks for the three of them and it looks like we’re in for a topical story about three young witches.  Not a bit of it.  That idea goes nowhere.  Or there’s distracting inconsistencies, such as the story being set in the present day, complete with laptops and the like, but not a single one of the teenagers has a mobile phone.  Say what?  A text or two might have speeded up the action.

On the plus side, the three girls are great, Tuva Jagell especially as the female Kim.  You find yourself genuinely supporting her and her friends when their first experience as boys gives them the confidence to take on their bullies, especially in the unforgiving arena of a sports field.  They change from zeroes to heroes.  The performances from their male equivalents are almost as good.  Visually, there’s some powerful images, especially in the first half of the film and the cinematography as a whole creates some highlights in its own right.  The shots of the idyllic part of town where the girls live, with the houses in graduating shades of pink, are a case in point.

But as a whole, it’s inconclusive, holding its audience at a distance, despite the efforts of the young cast.  For most of the time, it’s hard to be involved with what’s happening on the screen and, if you’re a male of the species, you could easily feel that the boys get a bum rap.  Some are definitely more equal than others.  Director Alexandra-Therese Keining scratches the surface of the main themes – sexuality, equality and self-discovery, as well as the inevitable coming of age – but never goes much deeper than that.  The result is hollow, unsatisfactory – and, ultimately, unsatisfying.

 

Freda's been a film fan all her life - the best qualification for the job! As well as being a Movie Marker regular, she has her own blog, Talking Pictures - https://fredacooper.wordpress.com/ - and a podcast of the same name - https://soundcloud.com/freda-14/talkingpictures6october2016. She can even be heard burbling on about films every Friday morning on BBC Surrey and Sussex!

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