Cover of Vol 53 No 1, 2014Vol 53 No 1, 2014

A Special Issue on Lukas Moodyson


C. Claire Thomson



Helga H. Lúthersdóttir


'Even if you aren't Swedish, even if you aren't lesbian': Show Me Love in Queer American Context


Concentrating on the film’s reception in the United States, this article analyses Fucking Åmal (Show Me Love, 1998) according to its status as a foreign film. The film’s two main themes, lesbian love story and small-town boredom, are explored, as well as the film’s connection to the genres of romantic comedy and the American teen movie. Applying queer theory I assert that the lesbian theme is central to Show Me Love, where the narrative’s acknowledgement  and  acceptance  of  the  main  characters’ queer  identity  transcends  traditional  gender  roles  and  drives the  transformation  of  heteronormative  space  and  community into  queer  space  and  community.  The  tendency  of  critics  to downplay or disregard the lesbian theme while emphasizing the film’s representation of small-town boredom and focusing on the film’s coming-of-age story ignores the radical transformative power  of  queer  acceptance  and  acknowledgement  in  general discourse.  In  my  analysis  I  question  the  ethical  and  societal consequences   of   such   readings,   exploring   the   discourse surrounding Show Me Love since its release in the United States and asking why it matters to read Show Me Love as the lesbian representation it truly is.

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Anna Westerståhl Stenport

(University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Lilya 4-ever: Post-Soviet Neoliberal Angels and Nordic Intellectual Secularism


Like many of Lukas Moodysson’s films, Lilja 4-ever (Lilya 4-Ever, 2002) centres on a complex female protagonist on the verge of adulthood. Lilya is based on a documented case of suicide by a trafficked young woman from the former USSR, whose eventual redemption, or at least her dream of escape, is self-consciously visualized in sequences featuring Lilya and her friend as winged angels. This tension in registers, between fantasy and social realism and between melodrama and societal critique, opens up interpretive venues that paradoxically signal both the film’s protest against, and implication within, ideologies and practices of neoliberalism and globalization. Moodysson’s questioning of neoliberalism and globalization within a double framework of gender and religiosity point to his desire to find alternate (political) discourses outside the dominant ones. This ambition, however, figures Lilya as a victim of abuse on multiple levels: as trafficked girl, as didactic vehicle for a political message and, arguably, also as part of a postmodernist experiment that reinserts a redemptive spirituality into a context marked by capitalist and political secularism.

Elina Nilsson

(Uppsala Universitet (Uppsala University))

'Let's pretend we are the only people in the universe': Entangled Inequalities in Lukas Moodyson's Mammoth


This  article  utilizes  an  intersectional  approach  to  examine Lukas  Moodysson’s  film  Mammoth  (2009).  When  the  film premiered it was by some criticized for its over-explicit critique of  globalization  and  its  portrayals  of  the  female  characters as  scapegoats.  My  aim  is  to  show  how  the  film’s  critique  of globalization entails even more complexity. An intersectional reading of Mammoth reveals that the film employs a structure of pronounced narrative layers to illustrate how different axes of stratifications are entangled on a global level, such as how the situation of the characters are determined by an interplay of their gender, class and race. The film is thus a rich example of why a sensitivity to intersectionality when mapping processes of globalization is highly important. At the same time there is an ambivalence with regard to how the female characters are represented, as the film in some respects fails to acknowledge their agency.

Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport

(Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario / University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

'I Believe in Ketchup!': Girlhood, Punk, and Moodysson's We are the Best!


This article engages with the field of girlhood studies to offer a  reading  of  Lukas  Moodysson’s  feature  film  Vi  är  bäst!  (We are the Best!, 2013). Two intertwined yet apparently political and  cultural  systems  are  examined:  the  Swedish  secular, egalitarian  welfare  states  of  the  1930s  to  the  1970s,  often called Folkhemmet (the People’s Home), and the first-wave Punk movement from the late 1970s and early 1980s, imported from abroad but itself a significant youth subculture in Sweden. Punk offers the possibility of new forms of inclusion and participation within  a  musical  subgenre  or  movement  for  girls  and  young women;  in  the  Swedish  context,  this  allows  girls  and  young women  to  imagine  a  position  outside  the  consensus  culture. However, in line with Moodysson’s other films, We are the Best! does not challenge heteronormative paradigms in ways that are unproblematic or necessarily radical.

Kjerstin Moody

(Gustavus Adolphus College)

Situating Lukas Moodyson's Vad gör jag här


This article provides an introductory overview of contemporary Swedish filmmaker, author, and poet Lukas Moodysson’s 2002 book-length  poem  Vad  gör  jag  här  (What  am  I  doing  here). It  assesses,  in  particular,  the  shifting  narrative  voices  and settings of the 78-page-long poem, working to show the ways in  which  the  poem’s  fragmented  narrative  engages  with  the contemporary world for both the individual and the collective. It also situates the poem as an artistic touchstone for Moodysson, revealing the ways in which the poem both reflects the artist’s literary  and  cinematic  work,  pre-Vad  gör  jag  här,  as  well  as ways that it portends that which follows it. An excerpt of an English-language translation of the poem concludes the article.


Lukas Moodysson

from Vad gör jag här (What am I Doing Here)

translated by Kjerstin Moody


We present an excerpt from the beginning of Lukas Moodyson's Vad gör jag här (What am I Doing Here) in English translation. The translation, in its entirety, is forthcoming from Norvik Press.

Photo Credits

Cover image: Lukas Moodysson. Photographer: Teemu Rajala

Photograph used on cover of 2014-1 issue