I was expecting some sort of cheap, unoriginal, After-school special type of harmless romantic comedy, so I was quite surprised when the movie started to find out that it’s actually an art-house import from Sweden, made in the setlines of the (in)famous Dogme 95, meaning all handheld cameras, natural lighting, real locations, no make-up and so on. This approach can be unsettling for audiences used to ultra-polished Hollywood cinema, but the lack of glamour gives movies like this an documentary-like feel. “Show Me Love” is a look at girl-girl love diametrically opposed to that of a “Basic Instinct” or even a “Bound”, in which homosexuality is mostly there for kinks. Here, you can feel all the anguish that comes with discovering who you are, especially when you’re different.

The film is set in a small Sweden town and revolves around a group of “popular” high schoolers made of two sisters, the guys who like them and various hang-arounds. These are the kind of dumb jerks that can be found in any school, superficial dimwits who think they’re all that even though they’re as conflicted as any other teenager, but who feel the need to mock and ridicule others to make themselves feel better. One of their favorite targets is Agnes (cute brunette Rebecka Jiljeberg) who, rumour has it, might be a dyke. Well, she is actually, but it ain’t easy. She already has no real friends, she already feels like she’s a disappointment to her over-demanding mother, and now she has to deal with these feelings she can’t even talk about to anybody. Even worse, the girl she’s in love with, Elin (sexy blonde Alexandra Dahlström), is one of the sisters at the core of the in-crowd. Through a cruel prank, the two will share a first kiss, which will be followed by much questioning, self-deceiving and despair… And love.

Okay, so this is nothing quite groundbreaking, but it’s made in such a way that it becomes truly touching and involving. Writer-director Lukas Moodysson never strains for effect. He’s created these two complex, nuanced young women, and it’s like he’s just observing them live out their hard-to-accept attraction. Moodysson doesn’t sugar coat things and try to pretend that it’s all so simple and that people aren’t short-sighted and insensitive at times, but he doesn’t go the other way either and pile up the problems into forced melodrama. Often, you can see the movie flirting with cliché, “movie-movie” twists, like in a scene in which the two girls decide on a whim to hitchhike to Stockholm in the middle of the night, but then they face common sense and think better. Moodysson also doesn’t feel the need to throw in gratuitous same-sex love scenes just to satisfy mouth-breathing viewers. This isn’t soft porn or movie romance, it’s just an incredibly insightful character drama about true, awkward, beautiful first love, and it’s all the better for it. Oh, and that last shot is as cute as it gets.