Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Tnu Kark, Anastasia Bedredinova, Oksana Akinshina, Artiom Bogucharski, Elina Benenson
Director: Lukas Moodysson
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Shattering must-see -- IF you can
Susan E. Wood | Rochester, MI USA | 02/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First, a few technical observations. I ordered this DVD to show at a women's studies film program, and understood from the Amazon ad that it would be compatible with American equipment. Perhaps I didn't read the fine print carefully enough, but the copy that arrived was formatted for Region 3 (i.e., Hong Kong etc.) and could not play on an American DVD player. Unfortunately, I didn't discover this until a few days before the film program -- too late to return it and ask for another copy. Fortunately, I did manage to play it using my laptop computer, but that necessitated resetting the DVD player in my laptop for Region 3. I can only do this a certain number of times before the DVD player cannot be reset again. So after this film festival, I'm setting the computer back to Region 1 and leaving it there, after which my DVD of "Lilya" will be of no use except as a doorstop.
Part of the problem is that although this movie had a theatrical release in the U.S., it was never released commercially here on DVD or video; at least, that's what the guys at Blockbuster told me in response to my frantic, last minute effort to find another copy. And that's a pity, because this movie is a must-see for anyone interested in women's issues, or the economic and social problems of the former Soviet Union. It is not, to put it mildly, easy to watch, but it succeeds extremely well in its goal, which is to make you both sad and enraged for the children and teenagers all over the world who are tossed on the scrap heap of society. This movie puts a human face on a horrifically common type of exploitation (estimates have it that about 700,000 women and girls are "trafficked" every year, about 200,000 of them from eastern Europe). But the first three quarters of the film, the part that explains to us why girls like Lilya are so vulnerable to sexual trafficking, is almost as horrific. Abandoned by her mother, exploited and then rejected by her hateful aunt, shrugged off by the social services office, left in abject poverty and squalor to somehow fend for herself without any way of earning a legitimate living, it's obvious that prostitution will be her only possible choice. Can it get any worse than that? Yep, the last quarter of the film shows us that it can get a lot worse if she becomes the slave of a sadistic pimp.
I'm giving this DVD 3 stars because although the movie deserves 4, I'm subtracting one for the technical problems I encountered in showing it, along with a plea to Newmarket Films to market the DVD in this country in the appropriate format. "Lilya" won't be a big seller with Americans looking for a light evening's entertainment, but university and public libraries should definitely acquire it for their collections. At least a limited release in the United States would be a good idea. Come on, Newmarket Films, you're not in the business of selling huge commercial blockbusters like "Titanic." Why not release it in the U.S.? After all, a lot of girls in the "Natasha trade" end up here as well as in Sweden, and we need to know about it."
S. K. Harrell | NC | 12/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
It's a very sad film, though it did not leave me feeling personally wounded as something like Boys Don't Cry or Monster. It does not rely on manipulating the audience emotionally to make you feel what the characters feel. The story tells itself and in that is very un-western, un-Hollywood. On a personal level her circumstances were so bleak from the beginning that I could detach myself from what she went through. The story is quite sparse, and it works well, but it left me wondering how many people in the former Soviet Union are that destitute and how many young girls that happens to. It happens enough for someone to make a documentary-esque film about it. It was interesting too, as even though the writing was on the wall (bench, in this case), I hoped til the very end for a different outcome and actually thought it could change. Still, tone of the film is very hopeful. Given that, this film was wonderful in that it follows no precept. No label for it at all.
The actress, Oksana, was wonderful, as was the little boy, Artyom."
The hell of the sex trade
David Bonesteel | Fresno, CA United States | 09/02/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a powerful film about the international sexual exploitation of children told from a very personal level. Abandoned when her mother leaves for an opportunity at a better life in the US, 16-year-old Lilya (Oksana Akinshina) is left on her own with only the grudging, intermittent assistance of an aunt (Liliya Shinkaryova) and a 10-year-old boy (Artyom Bogucharsky) for a friend. As her prospects diminish, she gets into prostitution and soon becomes easy pickings for predatory entrepreneurs who ship her overseas with the promise of a good job when all she really gets is a string of johns and imprisonment in a hotel room.
Naturalistic performances by the actors and a mostly unsentimental approach to the subject matter allows the pathos of the situation to reveal itself subtly, which makes it that much more heart-breaking. I think I understand what director and writer Lucas Moodyson was trying to accomplish with some of the fantasy sequences, but I felt that a strictly realistic approach would have been more effective.
Beautiful and Haunting
Christopher | los angeles, CA | 11/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie changed my life. I can't emphasize enough how much I think everyone should see it, especially those interested in social justice issues. This movie heartbrakingly portrays sex traffiking in unflinching detail where we see a young girl and her friend living in utter poverty and the things that happen as aresult. The pacing begins slowly but stay with it. At the middle point, I couldn't pull myself away. The movie brought me to tears and truly affected me.
I do have one question though - some review sites show this movie to be region 2 while amazon says region free. Does anyone know if this particular dvd will play on my region 1 player?"