She-Monkeys (2011) MIFF Film Review


She Monkeys tells the story of two sisters over a summer in a small town in Sweden. The older, fifteen-year-old Emma, joins a riding club and becomes close friends and rival with the star of the club, Cassandra. Meanwhile, seven-year-old Sara is in love with her male babysitter and wants him to love her too.

This slow-moving film was quite uncomfortable to watch on several emotional levels. Firstly, even a quite innocent sexual awakening of a child as young as seven is taboo. As an adult, it is challenging to contemplate that one so young could be exploring their own sexuality, much less to have this presented on-screen. Secondly, the teenagers are depicted going through a rollercoaster of emotions and moral decisions, and often it seems that just as the situation is heading in one direction, it suddenly flips and leaves both the character and the viewer questioning their actions. Finally, the absence of parental figures is an interesting choice. The father is there occasionally and seems to be struggling with how he should be dealing with his two daughters. There is no mother or mother-like figure, so the girls are left to find their own way along this difficult path.

Having said that it is a difficult film to watch, there is one main reason to watch it. Horse. Acrobatics. Yup, the riding troupe that Emma is training for is a group of girls who run alongside horses, jump on and hold gymnastic poses. Move over, curling. I think I’ve found a new bizarre sport to love.

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