Together

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Whenever people make fun of the hippie experiment, communes are high on the ridicule list. There is a wonderful scene at the start of Lukas Moodysson's film when the inmates of the house argue about the washing up. This is Sweden in the Seventies when cool vibes, American music and free love prevail. Something as bourgeois as kitchen rotas should not be considered worthy of discussion and yet what alternative lifestyle hasn't floundered on the rocks of human frailty?

As leader, Goran (Gustav Hammarsten) tries hard to be fair. When his girlfriend decides she wants to spend the night with an intellectually confused political activist, he allows it and when she tells him later that she's never had a proper orgasm before and it was incredible, he has to listen. "But you're the one I love," she says, with a giggle.

When Goran's sister, Elizabeth (Lisa Lindgren), leaves her husband, Rolf (Michael Nyqvist), after a violent row, taking the children, Stefan and Eva, she calls Goran for help and naturally he obliges, finding space for them in the already crowded commune. The integration of Elizabeth, Stefan and Eva, as well as Rolf's desperate attempts to come to terms with his separation, is at the core of this heartfelt movie.

At first, it seems that Moodysson is mocking the pretentiousness of middle-class dropouts, as if his sympathies are with the working-class Rolf. But it is Stefan and Eva who act as catalysts for change ("Grown-ups are idiots"), appalled by the no TV, no Christmas presents rule. Stefan makes friends with the only other boy in the house, called Tet, "after The Tet Offensive", and soon they are playing war games and torture ("It's my turn to be Pinochet") and marching round the table with signs, reading WE WANT MEAT.

Moodysson introduces stereotypes, such as the cynic, the liberal lesbian, the whole earth vegans, the nymphomanic flower child and bearded Goran ("Sometimes life feels like an enormous porridge"), who believes that goodness has its own rewards, only to let them break the mould and reinvent themselves. Just when you think you have the measure of the plot, it leaps away from you.

These inventive, constantly evolving relationships are grist to the mill of human understanding. Unlike Lars von Trier's more anarchic, less compassionate commune movie, The Idiots, the message from Together is, "Dad was going to make Lego out of wood - he only made two pieces."

In other words, be happy with less.

Reviewed on: 11 Jul 2001
Share this with others on...
Together packshot
Seventies commune in Stokholm is disrupted when a battered wife and two children join.
Amazon link

Director: Lukas Moodysson

Writer: Lukas Moodysson

Starring: Lisa Lindgren, Michael Nyqvist, Gustav Hammarsten, Sam Kessel, Emma Samuelsson, Anja Lundkvist

Year: 2000

Runtime: 106 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Sweden

Festivals:


Search database:


If you like this, try:

Idioterne