Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The idea of togetherness tested in "Tillsammans" [2000 Sweden]

Multifaceted Lukas Moodysson represents a new generation of talented Swedish directors who have been successfully making their voices heard among mainstream audiences, and with an increasingly global appeal. His films often explore evolving societies by pitting idealism against pragmatic necessities, whether it is within a family environment, a community, or as an individual. I will be writing more about him over the days while exploring his impressive filmography.

Moodysson's second feature film "Tillsammans" [Eng. Title: Together] set in the 1970's, explores relationships in an altered environment. After their parents break up after a nasty fight, little Eva and Stefan join mum Elisabeth in moving into maternal uncle Göran's commune. They suddenly find themselves in an unconventional 'family' of disparate new-age-type left wingers aiming for a life of communal togetherness and open relationships. Frowned upon by neighbours and poked fun at school, the children struggle to fit-in, or even make sense of Göran's 'porridge' ideology - namely that individual oat grains find a greater purpose in their lives by being mashed and cooked together, thereby offering nourishment, a sense of well-being, and "becoming something beautiful". But they soldier along regardless and make new friends, who also are alienated from their own environment. However, after their arrival, everyone around them will sooner or later be making some changes to their existing lifestyles and attitude...

Moodyson uses various food-related metaphors to illustrate and compare loneliness against togetherness, which is as relevant today as the period the film is set in. By challenging us to see 'beauty' in the gooey and utterly unappealing porridge, he is poking fun at the communal way of living, which is just as stifling and unappealing on a practical basis - many in the commune shouldn't even be together, whether it is a constantly bickering divorced couple, or the promiscuity-craving wife of Göran. The film also illustrates how the interests of the individual do not necessarily coincide with the collective idea of the commune - as when the children are allowed themselves hot dog treats in a strictly vegetarian house. The film tackles several other topics successfully using comedy, such as sexual experimentation and their resulting tensions, familial conflicts and their resolution, the difference between tolerance and recklessness, and so on.

The star of the film certainly has to be the excellent screenplay and characterisation - consolidating both the all round fine performances and the superior technical aspects of the production. Lukas Moodysson has created a glowingly warm film that not only appeals to a mainstream audience, but also showcases its artistic credentials admirably - "Tillsammans" is Highly Recommended Viewing..!

Amazon DVD Link [PAL]


The Nudity: Jessica Liedberg, Ola Rapace, and Anja Lundkvist
The nude scenes happen during some of the more hilarious moments within the film. The first is during a genital showmanship in the kitchen between former married couple - newly lesbian Anna and a cynical Lasse, played by Jessica Liedberg and Ola Rapace (future husband of Noomi) respectively. Anja Lundkvist plays Lena, Göran's recklessly promiscuous wife - she appears nude in two scenes, first with an excuse to console radical house mate Erik, leaving her husband to listen to her lovemaking, and later adding insult to injury by confessing to him that she'd just had her very first orgasm. She appears briefly nude in a second scene as a drunk Lena trying to seduce a young neighbourhood boy who's in love with little Eva.

Jessica Liedberg, Ola Rapace, and Anja Lundkvist in Tillsammans


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