Having taken the box office by storm and swept the board at the Golden Bug Awards, this amiable tale of first love bolsters Scandinavia's proud reputation for rites of passage pictures. But such stories of hesitant lesbianism are ten a penny on the American indie scene and all this one seems to have done to set it apart is locate the action in a Swedish secondary school rather than in an alternative lifestyle bookshop or a health food cafe.
Although she's lived in Amal for over a year, Agnes (Liljeberg) has still not made any friends and is so resentful towards her parents that she only attends her own 15th birthday party under duress. Humiliatingly, only two guests show up. But one of them is Elin (Dahlstrom), the object of Agnes' secret passion, who drunkenly snogs her for a bet with her laddish sister, Jessica (Carlson). Desperate to disguise her unexpected fascination with the school outcast, the ultra-popular Elin begins sleeping with the doltishly besotted Johan (Rust). Yet it's only a matter of time before she risks everything to follow her heart.
An acclaimed poet by his late teens, 29 year-old Lukas Moodysson had already made a number of lauded shorts before embarking on his debut feature. Certainly, his comparative youth enables him to catch the cadence of 90s teenspeak. But every now and then, the dialogue sounds as if it has been written by a trendy teacher striving to prove to his students just how cool he is.
Vastly superior to last year's British variation, Get Real, this lively comedy should strike a chord with bored teenagers everywhere. Yet the inexperienced leads are considerably fresher and more courageous than the scenario, which never sullies its surface charm with a deeper exploration of either adolescent angst, peer pressure or provincial alienation, let alone sexual identity.