Friday, June 8, 2012

Together

It is is 1975 and Elizabeth calls her brother in distress. Her husband has hit her and she needs refuge: her and her children. Her brother lives in a commune whose free flowing, inchoate ways are certainly not those of the nuclear family.  She arrives and no ones' life is unchanged.

'Together' is a beautifully observed, Swedish film, resonant of the period and yet like all good art transcends it. Here are a group of people trying to work out what it means to live together where the 'traditional' boundaries do not work (and they probably never did). There is something profoundly important about the passionate connection between two people (so open relationships are difficult) but they cannot be confined within the fantasy of the 'nuclear' family (that is, I fear, too simple minded and improbable).

As the stories unfold, there is a weaving moral. The people who adhere to a binding principle (whether political or personal) decide to leave, the people who can play, dwell in the uncertainty of the game, stay.

What does it require of us to be genuinely vulnerable? An ability to play, seriously; an ability to believe and yet hang loose to particular beliefs; and, a willingness to explore.

It is too, from its opening shot where the commune members celebrate the death of Franco, a very funny film, a humour particularly carried by the children. For example, two boys discover though playing war may be frowned on (stereotypically bourgeoise), you can play at torture - the evil Pinochet defeated by the sterling resistance of his leftist victim! The boyhood thrust towards violence remains the same but disguised!

At heart 'Together' celebrates the messiness of being together in a way that is seductive, charming, celebratory and realistic - people do leave, they cry and bend, but mostly they carry on carrying on in myriad and good patterns of being human and loving.

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