There’s something very funny and fairly tragic about Lukas Moodysson’s 2000 film set on a Swedish commune called Tillsammans (or Together, in English). It’s set in 1975, just as the Spanish dictator Franco has been declared dead and follows what happens when Elisabeth, an abused woman and her children arrive and are taken in, grudgingly, by a gang of virtuous, or so they think, communards on a big experiment in free living outside Stockholm. Liberal idealism is at its peak and nurture has the philosophical upper hand over nature. The lentil-eaters believe that lesbianism is a political choice, not a predisposition, that sexual love should come with no emotional baggage and that washing-up itself may in fact be a bourgeois activity. So far, so very studenty. But, as the Eastern bloc was laid low by Levis, the sandal-wearing residents find themselves beguiled by the new arrivals’ worldliness – her Jim Capaldi records and her instigation of a game of good old competitive football. And soon they don’t know where they are. By the film’s end the commune is in ruins, having been brought down by the plague-flea of consumerism. And we, the viewers, have had lots of fun ridiculing the hippies for their stupid home-knitted ideas. But what, and this surely is what Moodysson (born 1969) is asking, have we put in their place?
© Steve Morrissey 2001