She Monkeys is an intriguing, dark and eerie tale of two girls engaged in a confusing underlying lesbian relationship set against the backdrop of the equestrian vaulting world. With a relationship that’s brimming with physical and psychological challenges, lead character Emma (Mathilda Paradeiser) does whatever it take to master the rules of this almost twisted game, failing to resist the temptation of taking control from Cassandra (Linda Molin).
The film was shot and is based in Sweden, but is subtitled in English for all of you out there who enjoy a good foreign language film, and this film is pretty special. You can see why it won a host of awards on the festival circuit over the last 12 months, even taking the Best Narrative Feature trophy at the Tribeca Film Festival as it grips you from beginning to end even if Swedish isn’t your mother tongue.
Overall the film put me in mind of a cross between the Hollywood film Black Swan and the more independent My Own Private Idaho, for a number of different reasons. The film has some of the same themes that were included in Black Swan, with the underlying lesbian relationship and the competitiveness of the two lead characters that ultimately makes them both appear a little psychotic, while the way it’s shot and set against the eerie music brings in a sense of Gus Van Sant’s Idaho.
Imagery in the film overall was brilliant as it helps maintain the film’s realism and gives it its overall feel of eeriness, which fits in perfectly with the script.
Despite the similarities to Black Swan’s competitive lesbian undertones, the film has another strong theme running through it – lost youth. This can be seen in the plot surrounding Emma and Cassandra, as Emma appears to want to remain young and not deal with the pressures of adulthood, such as sexuality and the torment of love and relationships. It can also be seen within the subplot of Emma’s younger sister Sara, whose longing for her much older cousin and the desire to wear a bikini gives us an insight into how children today are growing up too fast in an overly sexualised society.
The acting in the film is great all round, but the person who steals the show is definitely Isabella Lindqvist as Sara, whose powerful portrayal of a lost, confused and troubled little girl attempting to deal with the pressures of being a child but wanting to be an adult outshines everyone else. It makes you feel a lot of empathy towards the character and children experiencing such issues around the world.
Overall Verdict: This film is a highly enjoyable feature debut and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for something a little different, as it tackles themes that Hollywood just isn’t brave enough to explore.
Reviewer: Lewis Shepherd