I first watched this in December after hearing about it from an online friend. I had heard of it before but had forgotten about it because it’s a foreign movie. I saw it as a sad and depressing movie it’s not something I would want to watch again because there is no joy in it. It’s one of those movies where the baddies win and the goodies lose.
The trailer is misleading because it does not really show what the movie is really about and what happens in it. What happens in it is Lilja lives in a poor country so everything looks like Life After People. Her mom’s boyfriend decides to move to the USA and then they both decide Lilja stays behind and she will come later. But it didn’t turn out that way. Instead her mom is never heard from again, her aunt kicks her out of her own home and moves her into a rundown apartment and everything is filthy and filled with garbage and trash. Her aunt neglects her and doesn’t give a shit about her and Lilja is soon left without food and water and electricity so she has to prostitute.
As the saying goes, “you don’t know who your real friends are until you are in a bad situation.” Well this is what happened, all her friends turn on her and don’t help her except for this one boy named Volodya sticks around and he can’t really help her but he stays and doesn’t judge her. Then she meets a guy named Andrei and he becomes her boyfriend. He has to go back to Sweden where he lives and invites her to come with and offers her a job and a nice apartment. Her friend tells her he is lying to her and tricking her but she goes anyway and instead it turns out that he was a pimp and his boss was someone who needs human sex slaves and she gets a job alright and an apartment. She becomes part of human trafficking and is kept in her own apartment like it’s her cell. This happens way at the end so the whole movie isn’t about human trafficking. This story was loosely based on Danguole Rasalaite.
Now I have read about this movie online hearing different perspectives and it is frightening that a mother would abandon her child like that and she acted all loving and like she cared and she did a good job with her manipulation. But other speculations I have heard and from my own online friend that the mother was also a victim of sex slavery and her boyfriend was actually a pimp and he had to get her daughter out of the picture so he talked her into leaving her behind and have her come later. Once the mom arrived into a hotel room with her “boyfriend” he became her pimp and she became a sex slave and had no way of getting money to her daughter or calling her or anything. But how does this explain the letter Lilja got from social services with a letter from her mother saying she was renouncing her parenting and that she was never wanted? My friend thought the sex slave talked her into that saying it was better. I am thinking the sex slave did that pretending he was the mother. But it is a good speculation because who can imagine a mother abandoning her child? How can a mom be that selfish and evil? But if she is a victim of human trafficking, then she isn’t evil and bad. But I did wonder in the movie if her mother planned things to be that way for her daughter. Was her aunt supposed to take care of her or kick her out and move her into a crappy apartment? Did her mom really want things to be that bad for her? TBH I wouldn’t leave my child in the responsibility of someone like Aunt Anna. But did her mom know her aunt was going to neglect her? Did Anna lie to her about how she will look after her daughter while she is in the USA until Lilja comes over?
I can understand why they made the ending bad. Goodies are always winning so for a change, the baddies win instead and there is no happy ending and I think they did it to make the story more realistic and to show the issues of human trafficking. Danguole didn’t survive, she committed suicide so they had Lilja do the same and they both jumped off a bridge. Of course in real life people can get out of human trafficking and I even bought a book on it on my Nook Color but haven’t read it yet.