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She Monkeys

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Uploaded on Sep 25, 2011

Lisa Aschan lets us know her debut feature will be not quite like anything we've ever seen right from the get-go. During the opening credits, surf-rock music rattles as we trace a quivering tension wire in shallow focus. The fitness of that image as a metaphor will become clear as She Monkeys unfolds its layers of muted suspense, while the repeated injection of that rollicking music into the film's distinctively Scandinavian, blue-gray rural landscapes will continue to confound. Let's chalk it up to the fact that Aschan has a vision all her own, and lucky for us, she knows precisely how to bring it to life on film.

Part coming-of-age psychodrama, part modern Gothic Western, She Monkeys looks on as two 15-year-old girls, Emma and Cassandra, meet while competing for a spot on the local equestrian acrobatics troupe. At first it seems as though two girls who always communicated best with horses have finally found kindred spirits, but their friendship soon twists into a rivalry that reveals dark dimensions in the girls' nascent personalities. Meanwhile, with big sister Emma spending most of her time in the stables, seven-year-old Sara is left at home with her babysitter cousin Sebastian, the reluctant recipient of the precocious girl's womanly advances. The two stories, each driven by remarkably potent performances from its young actors, coalesce into a macabre vision of jealousy, lust, power and control --and the havoc they wreak at the frontiers of womanhood.

A winner at the Berlin and Tribeca film festivals, She Monkeys is a quiet film that loudly proclaims the arrival of a bold new filmmaker.

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