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When I was reading jbizz’s Election verdict the other day, I found myself smiling through this high school anecdote but I was also thinking about how different my own memories from high school are. The high-school me would’ve been mortified at the prospect of standing in any sort of election (not-so-different from the all-grown-up me, really). My primary recollection of high school is this incredible sense of discomfort with being around people and this feeling that everyone else seemed so comfortable and even happy to be in school, which I now realize probably wasn’t necessarily true at all.

So Agnes’s high-school just felt incredibly like my own school somehow. This sense of just being bored with everything, this feeling of being stuck (although I really didn’t grow up in small town) at a place and the fear that one might be stuck there forever, the desire to do something in life combined with the anxiety that one may not be good enough for it… this movie just gets all that so right according to me.

One really unique thing about this film for me was that there were so many scenes here where I found myself smiling but also feeling intensely sad at the same time. For instance, the scene where Agnes’s family is sitting around the table on her birthday and all the little brother wants to do is to eat. There was something really sweet and funny about the way he’d keep bringing the topic back to the food and at the same time it’s such an awkward situation that one can’t help but feel bad for everyone. Likewise when Agnes is being mean to her only birthday guest – I could totally relate to her annoyance and yet I felt so bad for the friend.

The entire family dynamic is actually really perfect. My own mom told me that exact thing when I was younger about people who have it easy (i.e. beautiful, talented and so on) in life being less interesting in the long run Smiley. Yeah, right. Elin’s character is so well-drawn too. It’s just amazing how the film manages never to undermine these kids or their problems and yet never feels heavy or overly dramatic.

Grade: B

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