Forever (2023)

Female footballers in a story that is ‘Forever’ (2023)

The Swedish film Forever is the most authentic soccer movie drama I have seen. It should appeal to female footballers everywhere, as a realistic story they have experienced in some form directly or indirectly. The producers were looking for new ways to portray football on the screen, and they scouted all of Vastra Götaland to find talent who could play football and act.

The Story

In the story, 14 year old Mila (Flutra Çela) and Kia (Judith Sigfridsson) are best friends who play on a football team together as striker and captain. The Linden club brings in Lollo (Agnes Lindström Bolmgren), a former national team player, to coach them alongside the Dad coach whose daughter is the GK. Mila responds to the tough challenges of Coach Lollo’s disciplinary approach, with Kia helping to keep Mila’s spirit intact. Mila’s focus on soccer puts her grades on a downhill slide, and she ignores her immigrant mother’s warning that Mila will end up mopping floors and wiping old people’s butts.

Lollo wants the girls to play in the Gothia Cup, but the club says only the boys team can go. Mila angrily challenges the boys to a game of first to score 2 goals, to see who should go to the travel tournament. When the girls win, the club decides to send both teams, but the boys retaliate by calling the girls lesbians.

The girls seem to take this harassment in stride, although Kia feels burdened by repeatedly supporting Mila. She has already been developing her feminine side and building a romantic relationship with a guy on the boys team. Though she enjoys football and is good at it, it is not her end-all be-all.

While Mila’s sexuality is not directly addressed in the film, she skews away from dressing up and takes on an athletic dare that injures her ankle right before the tournament. Mila’s grades are also a big problem, so that her mom locks her in her bedroom to prevent her from going to Gothia Cup. But Mila escapes, to pursue her dream at any cost.

The Soccer

As mentioned in my opening paragraph, because the actors are largely club players, Forever portrays some of the most authentic soccer I have seen in a drama. Producer Stefan Lindén says the girls’ ambitions mirror their real life ambitions. As of this review, striker Flutra Cela (Mila) and Judith Sigfridsson (Kia) play on the same F17 (U-17) team in Gothenburg, BK Häcken FF. They were 15 years old at the time of filming in the summer of 2022.

One coaching aspect of the film, which I thought was kind of cute, was Lollo making the girls take penalties and then practice their celebrations. It unfortunately has a bad side effect in that Lollo is completely unsympathetic to the GK’s feelings. Having seen youth players have to deal with tough professional coaches, I know that Lollo’s rigidity is pretty accurate. (Lollo as a first-time coach eventually does a little growing up herself.)

BTW, Gothia Cup is “the world’s largest and most international youth football tournament”, with 1,730 teams participating in 2017. It is held annually for 1 week in July in Gothenburg, since 1975, for ages 11 to 18.

In Conclusion

Producer Lindén wanted to make more youth-oriented content for Swedish teens because they mostly absorb American content. I was a little confused in that the characters seem to act more like 16 year olds, rather than 14 year olds. This made me wonder if Swedish teens develop sooner than Americans. 🙂 Regardless, the girls’ acting is so natural and believable, it lets you live and feel their stories, and not just watch them.

Forever is a really well-done, thoughtful film, not just the football, but how all the female characters come to understand what they want for themselves and for others.

9 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 9