Screen Reviews

Together (Tillsammans)

Directed by Lukas Moodyson

Starring Lisa Lindgren, Michael Nyqvist, Gustaf Hammarsten

Even as late as 1975, small holdouts of hippy collectives could still be found in outlying regions of civilization. For the younger of you, a collective was a house full of unemployed smelly people who drank, took drugs, and worried very deeply about the evils of drinking Coca-Cola or eating meat. They also made a point of not doing anything bourgeois – like washing dishes or making decisions. Ultra nice Goran (Gustaf Hammarsten) makes nice, compromising for a group of conscientious non-compromisers. One day his older sister Elisabeth (Lisa Lindgren) and kids Stephan (Sam Kessel) and Eva (Emma Samuelsson) show up. She’s walked out on alky hubby Rolf (Michael Nyqvist) and needs a place so desperately she’ll sleep in a place where they discuss who should do the dishes by showing their sexual organs at one another – sort of a monkey house with free access to drugs. Life is cramped but interesting as Elisabeth considers lesbianism and Socialism, Eva meets a nice boy next door, and Goran’s girlfriend has her first orgasm with Erik (Ollie Saari) – a guy who’d rather discuss Communism than get laid. You gotta admire his proletarian purity. Eventually, half the commune drifts away, Rolf moves in, and every one lives happily ever after in an ABBA medley.

If this sounds interesting, it is, but only in an intellectual way. I find it hard to decide if this is a parody of the fading hippie culture or a serious attempt to show how much love and understanding arises from not shaving your armpits. Everyone seems so serious – they ARE Swedish, and the Swedes are nothing if not dedicated to ideals. Yet, some of the scenes are so ludicrous – Goran making an impassioned speech about oatmeal and how it represents life, the debate over whether the kids should be allowed a hot dog after weeks of lentil tofu delight, Lasse (Olle Sarri) demonstrating that he wasn’t even remotely gay by letting Klass (Shanti Roney) do the deed with him. Coupled with jittery camera work and underlit scenes it seems this is a Dogme ‘95 piece without the certificate. The moral is if we all reject the evil ways of comfortable middle class values, the world could live with large groups of gassy roommates and spend all our free time worrying about the world, and try to change it on weekends by printing didactic pamphlets with very small print and very big words. I’m glad there are some people like that, and I’m glad they’re in Sweden.

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