"Together" could have gone in several satirical directions, but it plays it straight with unflashy camera and flat lighting—giving the commune setting a muted, old-photo look. Occasional whip-pans and blatant zooms zero in to show the true feelings on the faces of its cast, even as they spout politically correct rhetoric, or try to act cool during heated situations. The conceit of "Together" is how messed up and apart its characters are and how that will play out throughout its meandering point-A to point-B storyline. It's a true 70s vision and surprisingly sweet-natured for those unfamiliar with Moodysson's award-winning first feature, Show Me Love (originally titled Fucking Åmål—about the relationship between two teenage girls in the small town of Åmål).
Moodysson is a director who uses his camera in subtle ways to define alienation and connectedness. We are dumped into a family crisis in the opening scene. Elisabeth (Lisa Lindgren) is leaving her alcoholic brute of a husband, Rolf (Michael Nyqvist), and taking their children, Eva and Stefan, to her brother Göran's commune after a Rolf has beaten her. Göran (Gustaf Hammarsten) is a gentle soul, living amongst malcontents.
|It's 1975 in Sweden and ABBA's "SOS" is called for|
|Elisabeth flees her modern apartment—a grid of geometric separateness|
|The Together commune—rambling, overgrown beacon of hope?|
In a film with multitudes of closeup head shots, the camera eventually moves back for two-shots and group-shots within a single frame, as characters bond over shared experiences. Meanwhile back at Elisabeth's abandoned apartment, Rolf continues to drink and throw violent tantrums until meeting a lonely neighbor with plumbing needs. The two bond over shared beers and misery until decisions are made to move forward toward reconciliation.
|A rare group shot and bonding moment|
|Neighbors, soul mates|
|Stefan doesn't have to be good at soccer because nobody is|
-Europeans and the European-ish.
-Fans of ABBA who thought Mama Mia too cloying.
-People who acknowledge emotions, including genuine pathos and momentary joy.
-Jean Renoir film fans.
-Anyone who grew up in the 70s and lived to tell the tale. This includes my brother who would probably enjoy this if I bribed him a big bowl of popcorn first.
Who would not like this film:
-Connoisseurs of the slick and the shallow.
-Genre-film fans unwilling to branch out a bit.