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Elisabeth leaves her abusive and drunken husband Rolf, she packs her bags, takes the kids and goes to her brother Göran. The year is 1975 and Göran lives in a commune called Together. Living in this leftist commune are people between the ages of 25 and 35, along with their children. It is there where most of the film takes place, and there where things happen that affect not only the extended family members, but a few more... Written by
Fredrik Klasson <email@example.com>
one house; one revolutionary; two open straight marriages; three gay people (maybe four); three children; two carnivores and eight vegetarians; there's only one way they're going to make it... together
Göran is making porridge. For some reason this prompts him to deliver an improvised musing on the theme of Life Is Like a Bowl of Porridge, which goes roughly as follows: "We start as individual oat flakes, each with an individual shape; then we're heated and mixed and we start to blend together with all the other oat flakes; we're no longer oat flakes, but we're part of something larger - something warm, nutritious, and, yes, beautiful." Göran says this as though he's trying to convince himself. And no wonder. The porridge the camera reveals to us looks like repellent glomp.
And up until that point - well, up until a little before that point; the film's arc is like a long walk up a very gentle hill and it's hard to pick the precise moment at which we make it to the top - the collective seemed just as much a dollop of repellent glomp as the porridge. There were too many people too close together, the windows were never open, and for long stretches we never stepped outside, never even caught a glimpse of the outside. Every single room looked and felt as though it were buried in the very centre of the house. It was like living in a fetid warren, and it made me long for something cold and impersonal.
But even as we're gasping to escape we're being won over. In the end the film really IS warm, and it's the pleasing warmth of a fireplace rather than clammy warmth of porridge. The joyousness Moodysson concludes with grew so naturally out of what preceded it that the glow it casts is retrospective. I can't recall a single moment which I don't NOW (having seen the whole thing) recall with fondness.
The LOOK of the film is, in a quiet way, astonishing, except that it's so convincing you forget to be astonished. You'd swear it was shot in the 1970s. (When I saw the trailer I thought was watching an ad for the reissue of a movie that HAD been shot in the 1970s.) This is as great a triumph of art direction as any you're likely to see.
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