Together (2000) dir. Lucas Moodysson
Starring Lisa Lindgren, Michael Nyqvist, Emma Samuelsson
Guest review by Blair Stewart
Human nature has a way of gumming up utopias. In 1970's Stockholm, Elizabeth is an abused housewife who grabs her two kids and heads for the hills to crash at 'Together', the hippie/Marxist/anarchist commune of her brother Goran. Although the household's intentions are good, the intrusion pokes the communers out as being baffled hypocritical twits inside their walls, much like everyone else outside them. While Goran is the head of the house he lacks a backbone as his childish girlfriend Lena takes the 'open relationship' thread and runs off with it.
Down the hall Anna is going through a 'lesbian phase' and her ex-husband and present roommate Lasse is going through a 'bitter phase'. Also thrown into this melting pot is an insufferable politico and an aggressive gay guy with a bowl haircut that's unlikely to get him laid.
Below their worldview Elizabeth's children Eva and Stefan are suffering from a lack of meat, personal space and toys, except for Anna and Lasse’s boy Tet and his lousy homemade wooden Legos (and if Tet strikes you as an odd name for a child, I suggest you brush up on your Vietnam war history).
As the sparks fly inside the house we move outside to several subplots, including the conservative neighbour's kid making nice with Eva, and her hopeless father Rolf quitting the sauce and getting his life together, with the exception of an hilarious meltdown at a restaurant. The result of all this is unexpected for most art-house films and wonderfully optimistic at that.
"Together" gently skewers both hippies and the straight-laced, taking a handful of well-chosen comedic fools and letting them bounce off of each other. Moodysson has long been an international festival darling for his variety, including "Together”, a comedy, "Lilya 4 EVA”, a gutkick human drama, and "F**king Amal", likely a porno? His direction and visual technique is playful, a spry documentary profile, crash-zooms by cameraman Ulf Brantas, traditional dissolves, and a soundtrack which cranks-up the ABBA.
Moodysson’s script is both extremely quotable and attentive to enough characters that any of four kids, or Anna and Lasse’s relationship could justify their own film. I share the same fondness for “Together” as I do with Wayne Wang's "Smoke" and the Coen Bros’ "The Big Lebowski", films linked by their loose-knit communal themes. If anything I'm disappointed that "Together" is only a stand-alone film and not episodic TV series, which can continues the stories of Goran’s grow-op or Elizabeth’s journey into existentialism. Enjoy.