Movie Review by Kris Griffiths
Starring: Lisa Lindgren, Michael Nyqvist, Gustaf Hammarsten
Director: Lukas Moodysson
After the critical success of his pleasantly titled debut film, FUCKING AMAL, acclaimed Swedish director Lukas Moodysson is out to prove he is no one-film-wonder. His second offering, TOGETHER, takes a look at the housebound activities of a load of Swede hippies living together in a cramped commune circa 1975. It may not sound like riveting stuff but there is definitely entertainment to be had here, and it extends far beyond laughing at dodgy hair, beards and tank-tops.
“So when you’re near me, darling can’t you hear me, S.O.S” – the film unashamedly opens with a burst of Abba to set the scene. Abused housewife Elisabeth (Lisa Lindgren) has taken one slap too many from Rolf (Michael Nyqvist), and we see her walking out on her sneering hubby, who collapses into a sobbing griefball as soon as she slams the front door shut. She escapes to a commune called ‘Together’ run by her brother Goran (Gustaf Hammersten), who has to find room in the already congested living space for her and her two kids. The amusing bunch of inmates is immediately introduced. Lasse is a lazy bearded cynic who refuses to do the washing-up because it is ‘bourgeois’. His ex-girlfriend Anna has suddenly decided to become a lesbian after splitting up with him. They both decided to name their eight-year-old son Tet after the 1968 Tet offensive in Vietnam. Then there is Klas the longhaired transsexual, Erik the angry young Communist who never shuts up about left-wing politics, and Lena the dizzy nympho who is more into free love than her gentle boyfriend, Goran.
The newly arrived Elisabeth serves as a catalyst for drama in the hippies’ little world of liberalism. Anna takes an instant shine to her and persuades her to stop shaving her armpits. Klas then moves in on Lasse, whilst Lena makes full use of her open relationship by bedding the pissed-off Erik. We see two men suffering throughout all this permissiveness: Goran is too weak to express his aversion to Lena’s selfish conduct whilst his brother-in-law Rolf hits the bottle big time back at his empty house. They both provide the film’s standout moments. There is the tragic-comic scene where Rolf takes his estranged kids to a restaurant, inevitably gets drunk, and ends up attacking a whole team of chefs after losing his wallet. When he turns up at the commune, Goran is so impressed by his sister’s stern handling of him that he suddenly snaps and gives Lena the treatment she deserves. They are wonderfully dramatic scenes.
What fuels this drama is that the innocent children have to witness all this shameful behaviour from the adults surrounding them. Their subsequent mini campaign for meat and a television to be brought into the house creates cracks in the hippy fortress as the pitying adults yield to their demands. It is a delight to watch. This low-budget film is simultaneously funny, touching, insightful and satisfyingly entertaining. It makes me want to scream at the makers of crap big-budget blockbusters – “Look! Real characters. Real drama. Realistic dialogue. A cheese-free happy ending.” But they will never learn.