Magazine article Newsweek

Why Can't We Live Together? A Comedy about a Hippie Commune in Swinging Stockholm

Magazine article Newsweek

Why Can't We Live Together? A Comedy about a Hippie Commune in Swinging Stockholm

Article excerpt

The old joke goes that if you remember the '60s, you probably weren't there. This may help explain why Swedish writer-director Lukas Moodysson seems to remember this era with uncanny accuracy: he wasn't there. Moodysson was born in 1969. Which would have made him 6 years old in 1975, the year that his touching, dead-on comedy "Together" takes place. ("The '60s" didn't end in 1970.)

This funny, bighearted movie about an urban commune in Stockholm avoids all the pitfalls that movies about the counterculture so easily fall into, neither demonizing its free-loving, leftist characters nor holding them up as untarnished free spirits to put down the squares. Moodysson sees the follies of earnest dogmatists and bed-swapping couples who pretend to be beyond jealousy. But if his movie critiques the excesses of the times, it does so with affection. "Together" celebrates the communal spirit with warm but clear eyes.

Moodysson also understands that these like-minded revolutionaries were not, in fact, like-minded. The mild-mannered, rational Goran has to twist himself into self-abnegating knots to try to reconcile the household. The catalyst for the drama is the arrival of his "bourgeois" sister Elisabeth, who flees to the commune with her two children after her alcoholic husband has beaten her. Anna, a lesbian for reasons as much ideological as sexual, immediately takes a shine to her: liberating the straights is her aphrodisiac. Meanwhile, Anna's sardonic ex-husband, Lasse, is being pursued by Klas, a lovelorn gay man with an unfortunate Prince Valiant hairdo. …

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