Together (2000)

“Washing up is bourgeois.”

It’s 1975, and Together is the name of a commune in Sweden. Mild mannered Goran (Gustav Hammarstan) brings his sister, Elizabeth (Lisa Lindgren) and her two children to live at the commune after Elizabeth’s husband gives her a fat lip. The commune dwellers are all vegetarians, but they possess a range of political beliefs–there are hippies, a few gays, and a dedicated Marxist. Introducing a middle-aged housewife and her two children into this domestic arrangement upsets everyone.

Elizabeth’s two children, Eva (Emma Samuelsson) and Stefan (Sam Kessel) are appalled by life in the commune–there’s no television, no meat, and no war toys. Tet (named after the Tet Offensive), a child of a now estranged couple still in the commune drools over Stefan’s Lego, and the new children are seen as pollutants. The nosy, conservative middle-class neighbors across the street watch events at the commune using binoculars. They see the commune as some sort of haven for swingers.

Together is a mildly funny film–but that said, most of the humour is very dark and certainly won’t appeal to all viewers. Some of the humour comes from the children’s exposure to the ugliness of irresponsible adult behaviour. There’s an amusing irony to this because the children were yanked from one environment to avoid drunken violence, but they are thrown into other inappropriate situations at the commune too. I found several scenes amusing, but more than anything else, I felt sorry for the poor children–especially Eva who sits outside in the hippie bus for hours on end because she feels so uncomfortable in the commune. The bus becomes a neutral meeting ground for Eva and the little boy across the street–both feel uncomfortable and unwanted in their homes for different reasons. There’s a certain nostalgia value to the film–although this is fairly mild. The film’s message seems to be that humans always experience difficulty in relationships–perhaps the divisions originate in alcohol or politics, but the important thing is to learn to live together in spite of those divisions.

Together is from director Lukas Moodysson. The film is, unfortunately, not the same caliber as Moodysson’s wonderful Lilja 4-Ever. In Swedish with English subtitles.

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