Drama Movies, by Mike Richardson, 18 August 2012

Director: Lisa Aschan

Stars: Mathilda Paradeiser, Linda Molin and Isabella Lindquist

Country: USA

Runtime: 83 min

Release Date:

Language: English

She Monkeys is directed and co-written by Lisa Aschan who has created a portrait of childhood and adolescence that dazzles with its mysteries. The film’s central characters are motherless sisters; Highly strung, 15-year-old Emma (Mathilda Paradeiser) and soft, six-year-old Sara (Isabella Lindqvist). Emma is desperate to succeed at gymnastic horse vaulting and starts hanging out with the competitive, unpredictable Cassandra (Linda Molin). The two girls size each other up thoroughly, but soon become inseparable; messing on the swimming pool diving board and practising their vaulting moves together, they hook up with a couple of teenage boys lads and other typical adolescent activities.

She Monkeys

She Monkeys

Sara is confused about the physicality of Emma’s relationship with Cassandra and has a serious crush on her elder cousin Sebastien (Kevin Caicedo Vega) but he rejects her advances in a scene that is so much more than simply “uncomfortable”. She Monkeys is a female dominated world with any male presence remaining uninvited, Emma and Sara’s single father sadly struggles to connect with them and the hapless Jens (Adam Lundgren) is left cold and naked after attempting courtship with Emma, following Cassandra’s intervention.

It’s clear that this is no this is no John Hughes, Glee-lite romantic-companion comedy (rom-com-com). She Monkeys subtlety examines the dangerous, mischievous, highly competitive friendship between two teenage girls. Danger and menace certainly lurks in each scene, but the audience is never sure who (or indeed what) is at threat?
A film of this nature stands or falls on the strength of the performances and Aschan draws convincing, naturalistic performances from her young cast while putting them in highly charged, “adult” situations. Lisa Aschan claims that, “I tend to use genre to put a frame on my work, I try to pick a genre for each project I go into so for She Monkeys it was Westerns I was investigating. I wanted to make a modern western about power and sex…”

This is the sort of film that critics and festival judges love and at the Gothenburg Film Festival, She Monkeys received the top competition prize, the Dragon Award for Best Nordic Film and one million kronor in prize money and it won the festival’s FIPRESCI prize. Elsewhere, the film received the award for Best Narrative Feature, World Narrative Competition Section at the Tribeca Film Festival and Linda Wassberg won the prize for Best Cinematography at the Transilvania International Film Festival in Romania.

For audiences She Monkeys is more of an acquired taste.

She Monkeys

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