Girls Lost melds elements of genres including thriller and coming-of-age tale to create an elegant magic realist consideration of gender and sexuality, and how they interact with long-term relationships.
Given the negativity of Hollywood portrayals of female friendship in films like Bachelorette, the kinship, tenderness and care between the central trio is really quite beautiful. Leads Jagell, Holmén and Nyvall sensitively bring to life the extensive back stories writer-director Alexandra-Therese Keining has woven into her screenplay. Along with their male counterparts, each actress achieves a plausible continuity of personality between the male and female forms of their character.
The transition effects are hypnotically restrained and subtle so as not to break the suspension of disbelief; Girls Lost is thoroughly grounded in today’s society. Keining displays a fantastic eye for powerful imagery which adds some experimentation to the largely naturalistic shooting. Although many pivotal scenes take place at night careful and inventive intradiegetic lighting maintains a varied colour palette.
Like the best sci-fi movies, Girls Lost uses fantastical constructs to comment on the contemporary world. The exploration of gender and sexuality is complex, thought-provoking and extremely touching, particularly the relationship between Kim and Momo. Much of the action is set to a stylish sci-fi soundscape courtesy of Sophia Ersson, yet in the final act Girls Lost becomes a little buried by its generic influences. Kim’s recurrent desire to experience his true gender identity comes across like a destructive drug addiction, giving the film a climactic thriller shape yet diminishing the sensitivity it shows to transgender individuals.
Girls Lost boasts thoroughly individuated characters and committed performances, plus a sparing screenplay which utilises visual storytelling instead of resorting to dialogue-as-exposition. While the treatment of under-represented gender and sexual identities is largely admirable it is sacrificed somewhat for the sake of structure and pace.
CAST: Tuva Jagell, Wilma Holmén, Louise Nyvall, Mandus Berg, Emrik Öhlander, Alexander Gustavsson, Vilgot Ostwald Vesterlund
DIRECTOR: Alexandra-Therese Keining
WRITER: Alexandra-Therese Keining
SYNOPSIS: A group of friends grow a mysterious flower whose nectar allows them to temporarily experience being a boy.