"Together," a new Swedish film written and directed by Lukas Moodysson, is a self-important bore in the guise of a movie that is profound and revelatory. Actually, it says nothing that we haven't heard 100 times before.
The movie is set in Stockholm circa 1975. Elisabeth (Lisa Lindgren) needs to get herself and her two young kids away from Rolf (Michael Nyqvist), her alcoholic and abusive husband. In a drunken tantrum he hit her and that was the last straw.
Along with her shy, awkward 13-year-old daughter Eva (Emma Samuelsson) and insecure 10-year-old son Stefan (Sam Kessel), Elisabeth moves into a commune where her brother Goran (Gustaf Hammarsten) resides.
The commune is already pretty full, and with the addition of Elisabeth, Eva and Stefan, it becomes downright crowded and uncomfortable. The potent mix of personalities renders the house volatile and chaotic.
Also calling the commune home are Goran's emotional and experimental girlfriend Lena (Anja Lundqvist); cynical and argumentative medical student Lasse (Ola Norell); Lasse's ex-wife and brand new lesbian Anna (Jessica Liedberg); angry and frustrated Communist Erik (Olle Sarri) and Klas (Shanti Roney), a gay man with a crush on Lasse.
Putting all of these people under one roof is just asking for trouble, and plenty ensues. Erik fights with everyone while Lasse and Anna never get along. Elisabeth has her hands full with her two children and Rolf, who keeps pestering her and tries to win her back.
All this time, Goran tries desperately to keep the peace. He is eternally optimistic and wants everyone to be happy. This makes him a pushover, and Lena walks all over him, going so far as to sleep with other people and then tell him about it.
The problem with "Together" is its aloofness. It concentrates on one set of characters for ten of fifteen minutes, then moves on to another set and then another. This quickly becomes tedious and tiresome, and the movie feels unfocused and rambling.
It doesn't help that none of the characters are likeable, save for Elisabeth. The rest spend most of their time bickering and complaining, while never doing anything remotely constructive. They fancy themselves deep thinkers and throw some philosophy into the mix, but it's nothing that hasn't been said before, and said better.
There are a few hearty laughs scattered throughout, but they don't come often enough. After an hour, you'll be checking your watch every five minutes, praying for it all to end. It's all harmless enough, but there really is no reason to see "Together."
"Together" starts on Fri., Oct. 12 at Landmark's Oriental Theatre. Click here for showtimes.