The Commune [Kollektivet]

"Very Good"

The Commune [Kollektivet] Review


Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after last year's beautiful adaptation of Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd. Set in 1970s Denmark, this intimate drama explores a complex web of relationships ignited by a social experiment. It's a beautifully made film with an ace cast of actors. And the layers of resonance keep it involving even when it drifts into melodrama from time to time.

After inheriting the home where he grew up, architecture professor Erik (Festen's Ulrich Thomsen) and his news anchor wife Anna (A Royal Affair's Trine Dyrholm) decide to move in. But the house is too big for just them and their 14-year-old daughter Freja (Martha Sofie Wallstrom Hansen). So they invite their old pal Ole (Lars Ranthe) to join them, then vote to admit several others, including a couple (Anne Gry Henningsen and Magnus Millang) with a frail 6-year-old son and a guy (Fares Fares, of The Keeper of Lost Causes) who wears his emotions on his sleeve. With the house full, their lives become enjoyably full. Then this warm extended family has to face a serious challenge when Erik falls in love with his student Emma (Helene Reingaard Neumann) and decides to move her into the house as well.

While the entire cast is excellent, the main focus is on central quartet of Thomsen, Dyrholm, Hansen and Neumann, each of whom delivers a surprisingly textured performance as an engaging person whose personal decisions create all kinds of issues for the people around them. Obviously, Dyrholm's role elicits the most sympathy as a woman trying to be open-minded about her husband's affair, but unable to avoid the feeling that her life is crumbling around her. Her scenes with Hansen and Neumann carry an extra emotional kick that's very moving. Meanwhile, Thomsen is sympathetic but not very likeable, understandably.

Vinterberg directs this with a remarkable fluidity, creating warm, homely settings in which the 1970s period details remain thankfully in the background. Instead, this story of a communal family finds all kinds of present-day parallels, both in the smaller social drama and the larger issue of a group of different people trying to live together in peace. These deeper themes are lightly felt, never quite emerging from the more personal drama between the characters. And it's fascinating to watch a group of people who are so proud of their progressive ideas, even as they discover the limits of their tolerance. In other words, this is a surprisingly involving cautionary tale.

Rich Cline



Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Producer: Sisse Graum Jorgensen,

Contactmusic


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