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Together

(6/10)

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Current Rating 9.25/10 | 4 Votes

     Lukas Moodysson has been hailed as Sweden's best new director, both for this film and his feature debut, Fucking Amal (courageously retitled for the US as Show Me Love). I didn't see the latter, but based upon this film I'm not sure whether he's worthy of that title or not. True, this film sketches out the arcs of about a dozen characters quite clearly and
distinctly...true he has quite a fine command of the medium...true, he even manages to use ABBA judiciously (as a bookend, as a matter of fact)...but his choice of subject matter leaves much to be desired.

Tillsammans (Together, for us non-Swedes) is a commune in Stockholm in 1975. Although the camera rarely leaves the house, quite a bit can be assumed about the members from what they say and do: they are the sons and daughters of rich people (one, we know, is a banker's son). Unlike the cramped apartments of the Soviet Union, they each have their own room. Their collective involves no financial interdependence, and the only bonds the members really have are those of friendship. Bonded by vague leftist sentiments, no one has a clear goal except that of a better life for themselves (with the exception of fanatical Marxist Erik), and the inevitable tensions which come as the picture progresses can't be smoothed over by a unifying sentiment, though the ending suggests that collective living is overall a good thing which helps people out emotionally.

The story is not about politics at all; rather, it's about a group of people, each representing a type. In other words, it's a heart-warmer, designed so that you can see yourself in at least one of the characters, and that viewers old enough will be able to contextualize the story with where they were in 1975. It fulfills that role damned efficiently, too: well acted, sharply written, and nicely observed, it doesn't stint on well-developed characters or situations. Moodysson is warm towards all his characters, although it does tend to get a bit unbelievable when abusive husband Rolf (Michael Nyqvist) stops drinking completely and becomes a changed man (presumably, the man he was before marriage). His frequent use of dissolves is quite effective too, as is his decision to signal the end of certain acts through a red screen.

So what's the problem? I guess the problem is that I saw the movie this morning, and there's nothing left to think about it some 10 hours later. Satisfying but eminently predictable, only occasionally does the film hint that communal living may, in fact, be destructive for some people, such as Lena (Anja Lundkvist), who leaves the commune in tears and crawling back to her mother. Otherwise, the film is warm (in the best humanist tradition), funny, and eminently forgettable . This is a shame, because Moodysson has made the film so well, but very little seems to emerge. Mystifying, but there it is.

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