Monday, July 30, 2012

Tillsammans (Together) (2000) - dir. Lukas Moodysson


Having seen and been thoroughly impressed with director Lukas Moodysson's Lilja 4-ever, I have decided to give the rest of his films a try. I would have most preferred to have started with his debut Show Me Love, but the convenience of Together, which is available now on Netflix instant (and which I've heard good things about in the past), made this feel like a good start to this.

Together examines the relationships between a bunch of eclectic individuals in a 1970's commune in Stockholm called "Tillsammans". Instead of focusing on these characters in the scope of the outside world, this film does the opposite. They are shut in and isolated from community, making the focus, instead, rely on how they communicate with each other, as they strive to rebel against nearly everything that society expects them to be.

Undoubtedly, the film is driven along, not necessarily by a proper storyline, but by these characters and how they interact with one another. The characters of the film are as follows: Göran (Gustav Hammarsten) is the kind, soft-spoken presumed leader of the commune - one may argue that he is the most "sane" of the group. He is in a open relationship with tenant Lena (Anja Lundqvist), but the two are struggling, due to her lack of willingness for responsibility. She is having an affair with Erik (Olle Sarri), who comes from a rich background (which he opposes), and is arguably the most politically-charged member of the group. Also accompanying them are: Anna (Jessica Liedberg), a self-proclaimed feminist lesbian; Lasse (Ola Rapace), her ex-husband; their son Tet (Axel Zuber); and Klas (Shanti Roney), a homosexual who longs to be loved. The story of the film truly begins when Göran's sister Elisabeth moves in with her two children Eva (Emma Samuelsson) and Stefan (Sam Kessel), after she leaves her alcoholic and abusive husband, who soon attempts to clean up his act for his wife and children.

Now, my main issue with the film wasn't with how convoluted the storyline was. There are a great deal of absolutely great films with non-linear plot (I'm looking at you, Pulp Fiction!). Unfortunately, the fact that there as so many facets of the movie to discover makes it difficult to spend too much time on any of the characters at all. I understand that this was meant to be a satirical film, and the setting for this is absolutely great, but it just didn't seem like the characters came across as real people. Rather, they were like caricatures, stereotypes of characters our parents warned us about, and the audience remains at a distance from the goings-on of this closed-in community. I've heard many describe this movie as "heartfelt" and "heartwarming", but because I personally felt no emotional connection to any of them, I really didn't care for them too much at all. The parts that I think were supposed to come off as heartwarming, to me, just felt silly, because of the lack of consistency.



One interesting facet of the film, however, came with the children's paralleling stories. Eva is largely alienated by the members of the commune, and befriends a seemingly "normal" neighbor boy. It soon comes to our attention that his parents are just as dysfunctional as (if not more than) the members of Tillsammans, bringing to light the fact that these hippies of the '70's may not be as exclusively immoral as how the media portrays them. The friendship between Stefan and Tet, though basically glossed over, is also very interesting. At one point, they are shown playing a game where one pretends to be Augusto Pinochet being tortured by the other; for the sake of equality, they take turns being the torturer. It comes across as being very funny and an ordinary staple of young boys at playtime, but also exemplifies how the values of the adults in the household reflect upon the young and naive. To me, the scenes with the children were the most interesting points of the film and really provided the necessary connecting points that were lost from the rest of the film. If this were the whole film, I probably would have liked it a lot more.

I understand that there was a message that Moodysson was intending with Together. Unfortunately, it seemed as though the theme was unevenly distributed through a selection of characters that come across as "fillers", when it would have been much more effective with a definite focus. Of course, I definitely appreciate the effort he made with this, and am planning on seeking out Show Me Love next, since I still am a fan of the boundless creativity that Moodysson undoubtedly possesses.


My rating: 2/5

6 comments:

  1. A great review to start off your blog with. Good to see you back in the reviewing game. I've recently made a bit of a return also, check me out. Anyways, keep it up, mate.

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    1. You've been followed! Thank you so much.

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  2. Great review, Lyzette. You have no reason to be dissatisfied with it. I have never heard of this film or its director, and although you were disappointed with this film, you have still gotten me interested in his style.

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    1. Thanks! I've pretty much read nothing but good things about this one; it just wasn't my cup of tea. You'll probably like it more. :)

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  3. Well written review...

    I know how that feels..a drama centered out a lot of characters which ultimately lack the kind of depth they should have and end up being cardboard cutouts!

    And I don't see why you should think your review "sucks". It's not good to underestimate yourself so....unless you are fishing for more compliments and hence deliberately starting with a negative self-critique! :P.

    I do have a copy of Lilja4Ever for a while now...just being lazy and having other films in the queue to check out! :(

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    1. I'm not fishing for compliments, and I honestly hate when people assume that I am when Im just trying to be honest. But thanks for the comment. Try to check out Lilja 4-ever as soon as you can. ;)

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