on August 24, 2001 by Chris Wiegand
   Set in Stockholm in 1975, "Together" is a film about different individuals and the problems and joys that they experience when living together. Writer/director Lukas Moodysson's skilfully woven tale depicts alcoholism, violence and political debate yet also strangely manages to reach a tender conclusion and use an ABBA soundtrack to considerable dramatic effect.

   Elisabeth (Lisa Lindgren) leaves her abusive husband Rolf (Michael Nyqvist) and takes her two young children Stefan (Sam Kessel) and Eva (Emma Samuelsson) to stay with her brother Göran (Gustaf Hammarsten.) Göran lives in an already-crowded commune and the arrival of more houseguests causes disruption within the collective. During Elisabeth and her children's stay, all of the members of the commune (and some of their neighbors) are forced to re-evaluate their priorities and learn new truths about other people's lives and their own.

   The most remarkable feature of Lukas Moodysson's film is how convincingly the director gets under the skin of each of his characters. "Together" presents not only adult relationships but also adolescent emotions and yearnings, making it amongst other things a striking coming-of-age tale. Working with a large cast, he draws astonishingly realistic performances from the younger actors in particular. (This was also one of the high points of his acclaimed debut "Show Me Love.") His frequently claustrophobic style of directing incorporates some effective close-ups and he subtly uses a number of recurring symbols to tell his tale, such as the children's spectacles.

   Moodysson also succeeds in giving a balanced portrayal of life in the commune, exposing both the hypocrites (such as Göran's partner Lena (Anja Lundqvist), who convinces him that they should have an open relationship so she can sleep with his housemate), as well as those who are truly intent on finding new ways of living.    Starring Lisa Lindgren, Michael Nyqvist, Gustaf Hammarsten and Anja Lundqvist. Directed and written by Lukas Moodysson. Produced by Lars Jönsson. An IFC release. Drama/Comedy. Swedish-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 106 min.

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