Together (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner16/08/2001

5 stars out of 5
Running time: 106 mins

Swedish writer-director Lukas Moodysson’s debut film Show Me Love was a sharply-observed little comedy about teenage angst and lesbianism – it was a huge hit in Europe and was well-received (if little-seen) over here.

His second film, Together, is an equally well-observed comedy, this time focussing on a commune in 1970s Sweden – it was arguably the hit of the London Film Festival and, if there’s any justice, it will be the arthouse hit of the summer.

Elisabeth (Lisa Lundgren), a married Swedish woman with two children, tires of her alcoholic husband and comes to live in Tillsammans ("Together"), the commune where her brother Goran (Gustaf Hammarstan) lives.

It’s the sort of place where beards and woolly jumpers abound, people refuse to do the washing up on socio-political grounds and a policy of free love is upheld, if not actively encouraged. Goran maintains that everyone bonds together in the commune "like oats in porridge", but it soon becomes clear that those bonds aren’t as strong as they first appear.

The plot concentrates on a handful of characters and stories: Goran’s relationship with his partner (who seems rather more keen on the free love policy than Goran) and Elisabeth’s developing friendship with one of the lesbians in the commune.

Also included are; Elisabeth’s estranged husband; Elisabeth’s shy, bespectacled daughter Eva (Emma Samuelson) and the geeky neighbourhood boy with a crush on her; and her young son Stefan (Sam Kessel), who, together with his new friend Tet (named after the Tet Offensive) stages a rebellion within the house so that they can eat meat!

The acting here is uniformly excellent - Moodysson has clear affection for each of his characters and this shines through each of the performances.

The kids, in particular, are delightful. As with Show Me Love, the film uses a semi-documentary-like hand-held style, incorporating a lot of tight close-ups that allow us to really get to know the characters – it also manages to capture lots of ‘little moments’ (looks, gestures etc) that really add to the film.

There are many wonderful scenes, such as when the kids taste Coca-cola for the first time, or when they’re playing ‘torture’ games ("It’s MY turn to be Pinochet!"). It also has a lovely final scene that will send you out of the film with a huge grin on your face, not to mention an excellent soundtrack in which Abba, for once, seems entirely appropriate.

In short then, Moodysson is clearly a talent to watch – at the age of twenty-three he has already carved out a niche in ‘feelgood comedies that give you something to think about’. As such, Together is, quite simply, one of the best films of the year and is highly recommended.

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Together (15)
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Content updated: 23/10/2017 00:03

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