JJ+E is literally any other teen film, just in a different language — it showcases that the realities of being a teenager can be universal.
This review of the Netflix film JJ+E does not contain spoilers.
It’s not Netflix without foreign teen films or shows — the best genre there is! JJ+E, originally known as Vinterviken in Swedish, brings teenagers John-John (JJ), portrayed by the Swedish-Moroccan actor Mustapha Aarab, and Elisabeth, portrayed by Swedish actress Elsa Öhrn, together. They come from different worlds, the same city, different lifestyles, and worlds apart but an incident brings them together — for the better or for the worse, depending on your taste.
After saving Elisabeth’s sister, Patricia, from drowning, the leading couple cross paths. The fateful day brings them closer until they both realize they are attending the same theatre school. Despite coming from completely different socioeconomic statuses, they both experience difficulties in their home. Between JJ’s abuse in the home, gang life, and Elisabeth grieving over the death of her mother, the pair get close. No matter how different they are socially, culturally, and economically, JJ and Elisabeth instantly get each other and I think their attendance at drama school intensifies this further — with theatre, they instantly get each other and forget about the troubles of their lives and the troubles of being a teenager.
However, it’s important to consider how race and class interact in the film and how the film was reflective of the realities of an Arab person in Stockholm with a white girlfriend. Long story short, Elisabeth’s father was apprehensive of JJ because of his lifestyle and most probably his ethnicity. Touching on ethnicity, the film was reflective of Sweden’s diversity, representing Black and Arab characters. Portraying the often harmless realities of being teens in love, exploring more of their city, sneaking behind their parents’ backs — it wouldn’t be a teen film without the female character doing something stupid.
Despite the minor critique, it’s important to remember that these are teenagers and teenagers mess up all the time. And JJ+E is literally any other teen film, just in a different language — I guess it showcases that the realities of being a teenager can be universal. It’s just your everyday working-class boy and a middle-class girl who fall in love because of similar interests on a fateful day. Nothing new but it never gets old! The ending was disappointing but definitely not a surprise. It follows the typical class division between the couple but it could have been far more exciting.
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