Dir. Lisa Aschan. Sweden, 2011.

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The debut feature of Swedish filmmaker, Lisa Aschan is a delightful, yet intelligent film that subverts the coming of age generic picture with a queer twist. It won Best Film at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, so you can see the universal themes of young love travels well.

14 year old Emma (Mathilda Paradeiser) joins an equestrian gym team (handstands and vaults whilst the horse is moving) where her naturalness on the equine beauties is initially met with trepidation and jealousy by Cassandra (Linda Molin).  Slowly though a kinship forms between the two teenagers, a friendship full of looks and unspoken feelings.

The dynamism of their horse riding routines speaks of their unspoken admiration and romantic affection towards each other.

There is a reassuring confidence about Aschan's direction - affection for the characters and a softness in the depiction of new adolescent love.  Aschan is helped by the equally brilliant performances by the two teenage girls, and even by Isabella Lindquist who plays Emma's younger sister, Sara; herself a young girl a bit confused with her emotional connections, as she falls for her cousin.

In the same vein as French film Water Lilies (2007) by Celine Sciamma , about sexual awakening in adolescent girls She Monkeys has a correct tone and fervour to succeed in garnering critical attention and some box office from the arthouse crowd.

The film is distributed by Peccadillo Pictures, a company that specialises in queer cinema and enjoyed huge acclaim with the British film Weekend, one of my films of 2011.

She Monkeys is out on limited release from Friday 18th May, 2012.
Jamie Garwood

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