Imagine ‘Stranger Things’ with Barb playing all the main characters or ‘The Craft’ with gender identity issues, and you’ve got this intense, authentic Swedish fantasy. Kim (Tuva Jagell), Momo (Louise Nyvall) and Bella (Wilma Holmén) are outcasts: shunned by their vicious, misogynistic schoolmates, they cling to one another for safety and companionship. But when Bella starts to grow a strange black flower in her greenhouse, everything changes. By drinking the sap, these three lost girls are temporarily transformed into cocky, articulate young men.
It’s a fairly peculiar premise but played absolutely straight – this is a film with all the earnest emotional rawness of teenage poetry. It’s based on an award-winning young adult novel, ‘Pojkarna’, and it shows. Director Alexandra-Therese Keining clearly loves the book and tries to squeeze a little too much of it into her overcrowded film. But it is visually lovely – the transformation scenes are magical – and the young cast are terrific, particularly Jagell as the conflicted Kim, desperately uncomfortable in her own skin.