She Monkeys Review

Comparing She Monkeys with Darren Aronofky’s Black Swan does neither film any favour yet the proximity of their release and their depiction of female performance art has ended with them often being talked of in the same breath. Lisa Aschan’s film revels in the quiet building of tension with a serene gaze much like Thomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In. The film is menacing, replacing Aronofsky’s gothic pomp with a more controlled look, always very intriguing but Aschan could have done with cranking it up to 11 once or twice.

Emma (Mathilda Paradeiser) is a new addition to a team of equestrian vaulters. She immediately strikes up a friendship with the leader of group Cassandra (Linda Molin) but both girls become locked in a physical and psychological struggle for power.

Debutant director Aschan and her mostly untested team perform very well. The director celebrates the minutiae of every situation with the smallest sounds amplified and the softest movements scrutinised. The contact of Cassandra’s hand on Emma’s skin rings out and becomes a cruelly delectable mix of sensuous and sinister. Drunk and helpless, Emma’s breathing is heavy and rhythmic; Aschan sculpts every situation with ambiguity and nuance.

Far from Black Swan territory Aschan channels Catherine Breillat in Emma’s young, confused sister Sara (Isabella Lindqvist). She is confused about the physicality of Emma’s relationship with Cassandra and has fallen in love with her elder cousin Sebastien (Kevin Caicedo Vega) who rejects her advances in a scene that the word uncomfortable does not do justice. In this female dominated world male presence is uninvited, Emma and Sara’s single father struggles to connect with them and hapless Jens (Adam Lundgren) is left cold and naked after attempting courtship with Emma when Cassandra intervenes.

She Monkeys is a very adept introduction for Aschan, she has established a style both visual and story style that will serve her well. After achieving such a solid debut with an assembly of beginners it leaves the imagination eager for what could come next.

About The Author

Jonathan went back to university to study Film Journalism in Glasgow in 2012 and hasn't looked back since. Writing for the Edinburgh Internation Film Festival, The Birmingham Review, The Electrolyte Magazine as well as Front Row Reviews he enjoys working across media and if not lambasting folk about politics it's film on his agenda. Working in The Electric Cinema in Birmingham has allowed him to come closer to the medium he loves, his favourite filmmaker is Wong Kar-Wai.

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