Marxist socialism in Stockholm

By Вen Li

I could try to convince you to see this film by writing about lesbians, football, politics, casual sex and teens sleeping with each other, but I won’t. You can watch that for yourselves. I could say it’s good because the film is about socialism, diplomacy, alliances, the fall of the Soviet Empire and the dictatorship of the proletariat, but that would be obvious. No, you shouldn’t watch it on that basis alone. Watch Lukas Moodysson’s Together because it’s an enjoyable and deceptively simple story about people living together and their interactions.

Set in 1975 Stockholm shortly after the death of General Francisco Franco, the film describes a fractured worker-class family struggling with life after leaving an abusive father (Michael Nyqvist). The two children and their mother Elizabeth (Lisa Lindgren) must adapt to life in the free-love commune and seek inner strength, all while other members of the commune undergo renovations to their sexual identities.

While the conglomeration of vegetarianism, porn, rhetoric about multinational pigs and intellectual discussion about Marxist socio-economic theory may make Together sound complicated, it’s not. Despite the fast pace, the documentary style of the film and its succinct subtitled Swedish dialog, the story is easy to understand.

Elisabeth’s brother Göran (Gustav Hammarsten), a veteran of the Together commune describes the situation best: "You could say that we are like porridge. First we’re like small oat flakes–small, dry, fragile. Then we join so that one can’t be told from another. Together, we become a big porridge that’s very tasty and nutritious and yes, quite beautiful too."

And just like the oat flakes in porridge, the characters’ relationships shift when there’s heat. The hypocritical nosy neighbors learn that the people of the commune are just regular people, the lesbian realizes that politics was not a good reason for her to convert, the fractured family learns that love transcends physical and temporal bounds and everybody learns that all manner of conflict will eventually lead to a friendly football game in the yard.

Except for the surprise ending, the film seems to deal realistically but simplistically with the social, financial and moral issues associated with commune life–an attribute that is beneficial to story flow but detrimental to the realism that the cinematography conveys.

Despite that minor flaw, Together is proof that films do not need to be complicated or necessarily have opaque messages to be thoroughly enjoyable.

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