Live From SXSW's Screening Room

LILYA 4-EVER

D: Lukas Moodysson; with Oksana Akinshina, Artyom Bogucharsky, Elina Benenson, Liliya Shinkaryova, Pavel Ponomaryov.

Narrative Feature Special Screenings, U.S. Premiere

Warning: Lilya 4-ever, the story of a Russian teenager driven by desperation to prostitution, is not an upper. It's a film that ranges from grim to bleak, its emotional palette mirroring the sickly yellow hallways of Lilya's crumbling apartment and the dreary slab of a sky overhead. The only shred of levity in Lilya's existence comes in the form of giddy glue-huffing sessions with a prepubescent neighborhood boy, the only character who does not abuse, betray, or molest the poor girl. As Lilya, Oksana Akinshina shines -- if that's the right word. Under their sad smear of eye shadow, her molten chocolate eyes express by turns defiance, bravery, and childish incomprehension at the cruelty around her. Prepare to cringe at the unflinching depictions of her victimization, shot in such a way to remind, bludgeon, and pummel the audience with the fact that Lilya's horror is a horror that repeats itself over and over, night after night. (Westgate, 3/14, 5:30pm)

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