So hippie together
The Swedish film "Together" explores the best and worst of the hippie era, as a commune of free thinkers explores love, sex, childhood and the music of Abba.
By DAVID N. BUTTERWORTH
Sweden, 1975. If you were a hippie (and maybe even if you weren't), it
was a time of free love, Marxist-Leninist theorizing, vegetarianism, open
marriages, radical philosophizing, and driving around in beat-up Volkswagen
vans with brightly painted flowers on them.
Abba was on the radio for the first time they'd just won the Eurovision
Song Contest and people were starting to come out of the closet. Clothing
was odd tie-dyes and furs and haircuts were even odder. Change was in
the air. In Lukas Moodysson's "Together" ("Tillsammans"), the Swedish
writer/director examines that change through the construct of a mid-'70s
commune populated by a cross-pollination of people simply trying to get along.
|Original title: Tillsammans.|
Written and directed by: Lukas Moodysson.
Cast: Lisa Lindgrenm Michael Nyqvist, Emma Samuelsson, Sam Kessel, Gustav Hammarsten, Anja Lundkvist, Jessica Liedberg, Ola Norell, Axel Zuber, Shanti Roney, Olle Sarri, Cecilia Frode, Lars Frode, Emil Moodysson, Henrik Lundstrom, Therese Brunnander, Claes Hartelius, Sten Ljunggren.
In Swedish with English subtitles.
Related links: Official site | All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
We have an abused wife, Elisabeth (Lisa Lindgren), who has fled her
alcoholic husband (Michael Nyqvist) in the hope of starting life afresh,
her two children in tow. We have the mild-mannered leader of the commune
and his wife who profess to have an open marriage, yet it's obvious that
Lena (Anja Lundqvist) enjoys her sexual freedom way more than Goran (Gustav
Hammarsten). There's another couple, Anna and Lasse (Jessica Liedberg and
Ola Norell), recently separated. She believes herself to be a lesbian and
likes to air her views from the waist down; he's confused and angry and
quickly propositioned by one of the commune's few single male members.
Elisabeth's children, Eva and Stefan, are thrown into this socialist
melting pot against their will and try to keep their heads above water. (If
it's confusing for the grown-ups, what chance do the kids have?) Eva (Emma
Samuelsson), perhaps, manages something from the transition, forming a
genuine friendship with a pudgy boy her own age from across the street
(whose parents, by the way, regularly spy on the hippies through
binoculars they've got problems of their own).
Perhaps it's a bit much to handle the weight of such a variety of social,
sexual, and political agendas gathered under one roof, but Moodysson manages
to make much of it charming, eliciting warm and vulnerable performances
from his homegrown cast. The handheld camerawork especially helps here,
to-ing and fro-ing between protagonists with a claustrophobic edginess.
Moodysson understands his characters and his writing is sharp and believable.
As a companion piece to Todd Solondz's "Happiness," "Together" is a
natural choice. In fact, you could translate the title of Moodysson's film
as "Unhappiness" for all the dysfunction going on therein. But there are
times when life does, indeed, become bearable, when the petty squabbles and
differences of opinion are temporarily put aside for, say, a communal game
of football in the snow simple pleasures heightened by a renewed sense of
Only then do we see that the inhabitants of Moodysson's film aren't really
all that different from one another after all. Or, I suspect, from you or I.
|SEPTEMBER 20, 2001|
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Reader comments on Together:
togethr from sarah hall, May 1, 2002
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