During the 1970s, in a Swedish commune, Goran receives a phone call from his sister Elisabeth telling him that she has left her husband Rolf after he has beaten her while in a drunken rage. She brings her two children with her and the commune finds a place for them, but it's not long before tensions are making themselves apparent, not only because of Elisabeth and her family, but because of the difficulty the collective finds in living together.
You know that groansome old joke, "Women, can't live with them, can't live without them"? Together expands on that: "Other people: can't live with them, can't live without them." Written by the director Lukas Moodysson, this big-hearted film builds a believable set of relationships and remains sympathetic to every character, even when they're acting badly and hurting each other - including the abusive Rolf.
Although it starts with the radio broadcasting the news of General Franco's death, the drama is concerned with the more intimate connections between people than the major world events that the commune professes to believe in. One character is a born-again lesbian who has named her little son Tet, after the Tet Offensive; another is obsessed with socialism to the exclusion of everything else; but despite their high ideals, they all run into trouble when it comes down to the everyday business of getting along with each other.
It's so keenly observed that it becomes painful to watch. The miserable Rolf takes his children to a restaurant for a treat, but ends up getting drunk and is arrested, leaving them stranded in the middle of town. Well-meaning Goran has to put up with his girlfriend noisily shagging someone else in the next room due to their "open relationship". Eva, Elisabeth's daughter, is crushed when her new friend professes his love, not for her, but for the borderline nymphomaniac Lena.
But it's not all cringeworthy scenes, some of it is very funny (was Pippi Longstocking a capitalist?), and even touching, often at the same time. Rolf, a plumber, is called out to a lonely, middle-aged man who admits that he deliberately sabotaged his plumbing so he could have someone to talk to. It is he who points out that however difficult it is to live with people, it's better than being alone. And the moving ending, where the characters join together to put aside their differences for a little while, is what this film is worth seeing for.
Swedish writer-director who won international acclaim for his socially-conscious dramas: teenage romance Fucking Amal (aka Show Me Love), commune drama Together and the tragic Lilya 4-Ever. After the harrowing, controversial Hole In My Heart he turned even more experimental with the reviled Container, then the thematically ambitious Mammoth. However, he secured his best reaction in years with his 2013 feminist punk comedy We Are the Best!