Posted May 16, 2012 by Chris Suffield in Films
 
 

She Monkeys


Having previously worked as second unit director on two episodes of the first season of Swedish sensation The Killing, director Lisa Aschan’s debut feature film, She Monkeys is an intense coming of age story that has already won a host of awards on the festival circuit.

Having
previously worked as second unit director on two episodes of the first season
of Swedish sensation The Killing, director Lisa Aschan’s debut feature film,
She Monkeys is an intense coming of age story that has already won a host of
awards on the festival circuit.

The movie is
focuses on the relationship between two young girls, Emma and Cassandra, who
meet when Emma tries out for the vaulting team at her local horse riding
stable.

Emma (Mathilda
Paradeiser
) is a complex young woman, her parents are not a constant in her
life and her 7-year-old sister, Sara (Isabella Lindquist) is a
precocious young girl. The sisters are each going through an awakening in their
respective lives; both are taking those early steps into womanhood and
adolescenc.

Their single
father, Ivan (Sergej Merkusjev) is doing the best he can, but it’s clear
he is out of his depth. Unable to fully answer Sara’s questions and trying to
keep his little girl innocent, he struggles to be both parents.

Emma’s growing
friendship with Cassandra (Linda Molin) develops into an intense power
struggle. Cassandra is the unmatched star of the team and what starts out as an
athletic rivalry soon gives way to desire.

Cassandra may
appear to be the more calculating one, her feelings for Emma at times seem to
lean towards the obsessive, but Emma does her share to encourage her
affections. It’s with shifts like this that it starts to become unclear exactly
who is really in control, creating a near dream-like quality to the movie.

There’s no escaping
how elegantly the film is shot, the director herself citing the likes of Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns as a
source of inspiration. In place of cowboys are foolish young men and instead of
dueling gunslingers are equally as deadly glances.

When their
relationship becomes more serious and the prospect of a sexual encounter
presents itself, Emma breaks Cassandra’s heart by saying “I want to be like I
was before,”. This frank admission from Emma can be seen either as another move
in their psychological chess game or she has taken things too far.

It’s almost
impossible to pigeonhole the genre, occasionally the narrative suggests the
undertone of something darker lurking beneath the surface. It’s a huge credit to the script that
such dark territory never consumes the entire film.

The two lead
performances are quietly stunning, understated and not flashy but thoughtful
and confident. Both Mathilda Paradeiser and Linda Molin give performances well
beyond their years and Isabella Lindquist as Sara is an extraordinary find.

She Monkeys is an
impressive and very well made debut, featuring some outstanding performances
from the young cast .


Chris Suffield