Lukas Moodysson‘s Fucking Amål is a shining light of the cinema. It is one hour and twenty five minutes of pure joy that I would easily place among Singin’ in the Rain, The Shop Around the Corner and Chungking Express for its ability to melt even the most hard bitten cynic’s dry-ice heart. The film possesses a magic that derives from its simplicity. The direct, honest and taut nature of both the style and the content accomplish something that many films strive for but few attain: purity. The tale is rendered with such purity of feeling that we are powerless to stop it running amok with our tender little hearts.
Moodysson makes this achievement seem so effortless that it would be easy to dismiss the film as slight. To exercise visual restraint and focus on an economy of style, incredible performances and the pursuit of truth (in the face of potentially controversial material) are the towering triumphs of Fucking Amal. The film has what an old creative writing tutor of mine would call “Small window. Big view”. This phrase has manifold meanings but in this case I would argue that Fucking Amål crafts a relatively small world so believable with characters so rich and fully realised that it spectacularly transcends its earthly shackles and becomes a film about love (with a capital L), friendship and courage. It begins as a seemingly light tale of unrequited puppy love captured with the requisite handheld style we cynically associate with European coming of age films and then goes about disarming us faster than Segal in Out for Justice. It becomes a film about huge concepts and grand ideas that grow like thick roots smashing through the small clay pot they were planted in.
Agnes and Elin are as real to me as Rick and Ilsa, Faye and Cop 663, Jack and Nancy, George and Mary and Seth and Veronica. As a viewer, I am completely involved in their story and I ache for them to be united. In my opinion they must take their rightful place in the upper pantheon of screen lovers. The truly great on screen pairings move us in such a way that we are almost organically linked their successes, failures, joys and sorrows. After all, that’s what this whole thing is about isn’t it?
Note – Avoid the American trailer of this film at all costs. It cheapens the material considerably, as does the confounding retitling of the film to Show Me Love in America. This purposefully inoffensive set of words refers to a jaunty, enjoyable and long forgotten track that appears in the film.