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Film / Show Me Love

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Fucking Åmål, a.k.a. Show Me Love, is one of the best-known films to come out of Sweden in recent years.

The story concerns Agnes Ahlberg, a young lesbian who has recently moved to the sleepy Swedish town of Åmål with her family. Agnes goes to school in 9th grade, the last year before High School (locally known as "gymnasium"), where her only friend is a wheelchair-bound girl named Viktoria. But Agnes dreams of a better life and spends her days pining for the school's most popular girl, Elin Olsson.

When Agnes' parents decide to throw a sixteenth-birthday party without consulting her, Agnes invites only Viktoria, but Elin and her older sister Jessica crash the party, unbeknownst to Agnes. While there, Jessica dares Elin to kiss Agnes on the lips—and is revolted when Elin does so. Elin enjoys the kiss, but Agnes—who didn't know of the dare—is left feeling hurt and confused.

Elin soon starts to feel remorse, and decides to apologize. The two start to strike up a relationship, but Elin worries that Jessica won't accept her, and instead invents a romance with Unlucky Everydude Johan, best friend of Jessica's loser boyfriend Markus.

The movie is famous for having gone right up against Titanic (1997) in its native country, and sweeping the Guldbagges (the Swedish Academy Awards).

This movie contains examples of:

  • Aggressive Categorism: Markus is the obvious case, with his inane rant about how women can't possibly understand cellphones and men can't possibly understand makeup. However, it's implied that the people in general are just as narrow-minded, they just don't flaunt it like he does. Life in a small town is hell.
  • Alpha Bitch: Camilla. She's a popular girl usually flanked by her female friends, mocking other girls as her main pastime. Multiple times she goes out of her way to pick on Agnes, who's a misfit tomboy lesbian.
  • The Bet: The whole relationship between Agnes and Elin starts when Elin kisses Agnes, on a bet from Jessica.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Elin and Agnes in the car, acting on the mutual attraction they have for each other at last.
  • Bisexual Love Triangle: Elin dates Johan, losing her virginity with him, and is attracted to boys generally. Then she falls for Agnes though, deciding on her over him in the finale.
  • Censored Title: Almost nowhere outside of Sweden used the original title. In Swedish, the word "fucking" is used exclusively as a curse-word. In English, it would be interpreted as if the movie was about intercourse.
  • Closet Gay: Agnes is not out as a lesbian in the beginning, as a result of the homophobia in her town. However, basically everyone who knows her (aside from her family, ironically), are well aware as she doesn't hide it well.
  • Closet Key: Agnes for Elin, possibly. She shows no sign of being interested in girls before her.
  • Coming-Out Story: For both girls. Agnes is well aware she's a lesbian, though she stays in the closet at first due to homophobia. Elin falls for Agnes, which appears to be her first time finding a girl attractive. Both of them come out at the end triumphantly, declaring they're girlfriends.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Jessica has to break up a fight between Markus and another boy who was trying to chat her up.
  • Daddy's Girl: Agnes. She's closest to him as her dad is doting and deferential to her, while Agnes' mom (though kind) doesn't know how to relate with her as well.
  • Diegetic Switch: Foreigner's "I Want To Know What Love Is" goes up in volume when Agnes and Elin kiss in the car.
  • Double Entendre: The kids chanting for Elin to "come out" of the bathroom.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Markus spends some time comparing the size of his phone to other guys'. The funny part is that they brag about how small their phones are.
  • Doting Parent: Agnes' father doesn't tend to get it right, but he adores her and is very supportive.
  • Enter Stage Window: Elin, wanting to apologise to Agnes, tosses pebbles at her window. The first time she does so, there's no incident, but later on in the film when she does the same thing again, she breaks the window.
  • Erotic Dream: Elin has one of these about Agnes the night after they kiss.
  • Extreme Doormat: Johan is totally passive when Markus' jerkassness is concerned. It's quite implied that he hangs out with him only because as a popular guy, it's what he's expected to do.
  • Gayngst: Agnes. So. Much. A closeted lesbian girl in a small town, she gets mocked as a "dyke" frequently by her peers, with just one friend due to being a social reject. Her crush, Elin, initially doesn't really know who Agnes even is, and then leads her on with a kiss just due to a bet. This naturally doesn't cause Agnes to be very happy at first, with her even halfheartedly attempting suicide over Elin, but it gets interrupted. Agnes gets over this with Elin's help, who genuinely falls for her, after which the pair defiantly come out together, stating they're girlfriends.
  • Hair-Contrast Duo: Shy brunette Agnes and outgoing blonde Elin.
  • Heteronormative Crusader:
    • Camilla is always ready to mock Agnes as a "dyke" whenever she sees her.
    • Viktoria chose to assume this role, harassing Agnes for her lesbianism due to bitterness over Agnes' insults toward her when their friendship collapsed. It's all an openly calculated plot designed to use homophobia as a means to gain popularity... and it backfires completely.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: While Agnes is a lesbian, Elin hasn't shown any attraction to any other girl - Agnes is quite possibly her first and only one.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Elin comes to apologise to Agnes while Agnes is in the middle of trying to slit her wrists with a safety razor.
  • Intertwined Fingers: The climactic scene, when Elin and Agnes walk out of the bathroom - and out of the school grounds - Holding Hands, Intertwined Fingers, swinging their arms, and giving each other sideways looks and smiles, is about the cutest scene in movie history, possibly only topped by the scene immediately following where they drink chocolate milk together.
  • Lampshade Hanging: During the hitchhiking scene, the girls kiss in the car while Suspiciously Apropos Music plays. This is swiftly broken up by the driver, and he asks if he's on Candid Camera.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Elin is a Girly Girl with long hair and feminine (often rather revealing) clothing, plus the usual teenage girl's interests. She falls for tomboy lesbian Agnes. Elin is likely bisexual though, as she's attracted only to boys before Agnes.
  • Lonely Together: As Agnes points out in a Kick the Dog moment to Viktoria, they hang out together because no one else wants to hang out with them.
  • Love Confession: Elin's to Agnes is a stumbling but passionate speech. Agnes says it all with a nod and shining eyes.
  • Market-Based Title In addition to the two mentioned already, we have Raus aus Åmål for Germany and Láska je láska for Czech Republic and Slovakia.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Agnes is a tomboy lesbian with a crush on Elin, who seems to be a straight Girly Girl initially. Elin then falls for Agnes too though. At the end, they become each other's girlfriends.
  • Masturbation Means Sexual Frustration: Agnes masturbates to Elin's class photo. It's implied that Elin does this to Agnes' photo as well.
  • Now What?: The ending deliberately leaves many plot threads hanging (like how coming out of the (water) closet affects the balance of power, or how Jessica will react upon finding out. Or if Jessica and Johan end up together—it is implied that she breaks up with Markus.)
  • Odd Friendship: Only Popularity Food Chain could explain why Nice Guy Johan would hang out with a Jerkass like Markus.
  • Pair the Spares: By the way they smile at each other and Jessica previously saying how a nice guy he is, it's likely that she and Johan would end up together.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Elin pulls them out trying to convince Jessica to go to Agnes' party, and again when trying to convince Agnes to go to Camilla's party.
  • Really Gets Around: Everyone thinks this about Elin, and Johan's surprised when it turns out she'd actually been a virgin before the two had sex.
  • Romantic False Lead: Johan, although somewhat unusually he's actually a nice guy who genuinely cares for Elin.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Johan, who Elin dates, sleeps with, and then breaks up with to be with Agnes. However, it's implied that he may eventually start dating Jessica.
  • Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy:
    • Likely the main reason Jessica dates Markus, despite liking him less and less.
    • Outsider Agnes being after popular girl Elin is the queer example.
  • Slut-Shaming: Elin has quite the reputation for being promiscuous, despite being only 14 and never actually seen going beyond flirting, with others disparaging her as a result. Johan is rather surprised to find out she was a virgin after their first time.
  • Small Town Boredom: Elin, hardcore. One reason she drops the title of the film. Unfortunately, while the concept gets a good treatment in overall dialogue and character arcs, it's slightly marred by what seems to be big-city misconceptions about Swedish small-town life. To facilitate production, the film was actually shot in Trollhättan, a town that is five times larger and much more like a real city: this is not what a small town looks like in Sweden (for one thing, bridges like the one in the film are very rare).
  • Smitten Teenage Girl: Agnes and Elin barely know each other at the start of the film, but Agnes is still writing poetry about her and writing her name in her books.
  • Speed Sex: Elin complains that her boyfriend went too fast after she's lost her virginity with him, saying Johan lasted about five seconds. Jessica says Markus is better than he was once, but used to be like this too.
  • Spurned into Suicide: Agnes over Elin's cruelty to her. It's not really a wholehearted attempt, and Elin interrupts it. Given her method, it's more likely Agnes was taking her emotions out on herself through cutting rather than really attempting suicide.
  • Take It to the Bridge: It isn't until Elin and Agnes get to the bridge that they really get talking, make plans to run away to Stockholm, and make out.
  • Their First Time: Elin loses her virginity through having sex with Johan, whom she dates briefly. He's surprised afterward when she tells him, since Elin has a reputation for promiscuity.
  • Title Drop:
    • "Why do we have to live in fucking hell dick Åmål?" or words to that effect. The line in Swedish ("Varför måste vi bo i fucking jävla kuk-Åmål?") is a bit hard to translate.
    • Elin drops the title exactly in the bridge scene.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Agnes and Elin. The former is the tomboy, having short hair, fairly boyish clothing and eschewing typical girls' interests. Elin is the Girly Girl, with long hair, feminine (often pretty revealing clothing) and standard interests for a teenage girl.
  • Transparent Closet: The chances of a straight girl reading Edith Södergran are slim to none. Surprisingly enough, everyone sees this except Agnes' family.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: After drinking most of a bottle of wine (straight out of the bottle) at the Wild Teen Party, Elin runs to the bathroom and pukes into the toilet, in close-up. Her behaviour immediately afterward implies that she was doing this as an excuse to leave early. It's never revealed how much she drank, and she likely faked the vomiting, as she never says anything about being drunk.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • At her unwanted party, Agnes throws a fit at Viktoria, insulting her and even picking on her because she's disabled. Her parents call her out on it, and she later tries to apologize. Viktoria refuses to forgive her, mostly because it's true what Agnes said: They never liked each other, and they both knew it. They were "friends" because no-one else wanted them.
    • Also inverted: When Karin first hears the rumour going around, her first impulse is to invade Agnes' privacy (particularly the diary entry Agnes wrote when Elin argued with her). Instead of, you know, just sitting down and talking to her. This has the expected result.
  • Wild Teen Party: The party Elin and Jessica attend early on.
  • You Are Grounded!: Elin and Jessica are grounded on the night of the party, and pay precisely as much attention to their grounding as one might expect.

Alternative Title(s): Fucking Amal