Lilya 4-ever

Lilya 4-ever ★★★★

Lilya 4-ever is one of the most depressing films ever made. I thought this the first time I saw it and pretty much the same is true on a rewatch.

When I first saw it I was caught off-guard by the "matter of fact" style of its storytelling. The film depicts a heartbreaking and bleak life that is all to real for many unfortunate people out there. There is nothing fancy about the presentation, there are no unexpected twists and turns and it ultimately left me feeling cold.

The way I feel might be due to the way we see things from Lilja's perspective yet we are observers and not participators. We are helpless, much like many victims of sex trafficking and all we see are horrors that keep growing in magnitude. It is a necessary story to tell but that doesn't make it any less punishing to see.

Oksana Akinshina is wholly believable as Lilja and Artyom Bogucharsky is great a Volodya. It is within the friendship between the two that the film highlights how good can still come from the most depressing of situations. It touches a bit on religion and shows how even when cruelty occurs and the innocent suffer, we should strive to make the best of life as it is so precious. Life is ultimately short in the grand scheme of things and we only get one go at it. If there exists eternal happiness at the end of it, should we not strive to be the best versions of ourselves?

The world we see in Lilya 4-ever is one filled with greed, lies, abuse, addiction and crime. Lilja has her own flaws but she is still just a kid and it feels like the world she lives in is far too unforgiving for even the slightest of mistakes. Even when you try your best you might still get punished.

In a way the film left me too cold because of its bleak nature but that doesn't take away from it's honesty and hard hitting message. Whether we are parents, siblings, friends or people in authority, we have a duty to protect our children.

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