‘The Commune’ (‘Kollektivet’): Berlin Review

Former Oscar hopeful Thomas Vinterberg draws on his possess radical childhood for this Berlin foe contender about a dysfunctional Danish commune.

Free adore comes during a high cost in Thomas Vinterberg’s latest comic drama, a slight though friendly duration square partly desirous by a Danish writer-director’s possess childhood flourishing adult in a hippie kibbutz in 1970s Copenhagen. Screening in Berlin this week following a domestic launch final month, The Commune reunites Vinterberg with Tobias Lindholm, co-writer of his Oscar-shortlisted play The Hunt (Jagten), and pivotal expel members from his award-winning 1998 breakthrough film, The Celebration (Festen).

In both a thespian context and a cloyed point on a intimately released 1970s, The Commune nods to some apparent cinematic ancestors, particularly Lukas Moodysson’s Together and Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm. This a sweeter and gentler film than either, perceptibly upbeat for Vinterberg and for Danish film in general, that typically sits on a spectrum somewhere between suicidal and apocalyptic. But these really accessible, crowd-pleasing elements could good interpret into blurb interest internationally. Distribution deals are already in place opposite most of Europe, with a French recover due in late February, followed by Germany and Britain in April.

The environment is 1975, a plcae a well-heeled coastal suburb north of Copenhagen. A small wearied with her undisturbed midlife routine, TV newsreader Anna (Trine Dyrholm) persuades her bleak college techer father Erik (Ulrich Thomsen) to spin his newly hereditary family home into a commune. Together with their 14-year-old daughter, Freja (Martha Sofie Wallstrøm Hansen), they fill a residence with independent friends and individualist strangers. Soon this wayward suburban palace is abuzz with unruly cooking parties, domestic energy struggles and – this being Scandinavia – full frontal nudity.

Predictably, balmy ideal faith takes a inclement spin when infidelity and passionate jealousy cloud a picture. Emboldened by a approving mood of kibbutz life, Erik starts an event with 24-year-old tyro Emma (Helene Reingaard Neumann), after relocating her into a common house. Initially stoical and accepting, Anna shortly starts to moment adult underneath this vicious new domestic arrangement, environment friends and co-workers on edge. With a community dream crumbling, something has to give.

The Commune facilely entertains during a TV sit-com level, with a purposeful dialogue, a carol of thinly drawn caricatures, and a cosy clarity of hoax towards a unsuccessful amicable experiments of past generations. But as critical cinema, it feels singular for a same reasons. Political context is infrequently absent, with perceptibly a curtsy to a heady brew of feminism, disturbance and Vietnam-era anti-war leftism that fuelled a kibbutz movement. Vinterberg and Lindholm also sojourn strangely nice about a darker elements of this story, gripping a tinge light even as they curve towards tragedy when a border impression dies, a cloying turn that feels clumsily engineered for thespian closure.

Vinterberg and cinematographer Jesper Tøffner fire in a now-familiar post-Dogme 95 style, with complicated use of hand-held cameras and jumpy close-ups, all embellished in a bleached-out vintage-postcard palette of coppery earthtones and stonewashed blues. A period-specific soundtrack is peppered with mellow retro sounds, from Elton John to Danish folk-pop minstrels. Overall, The Commune is a honeyed though unchallenging practice in resourceful nostalgia, a required film about an radical era.

Production companies: Zentropa International Sweden, Topkapi Films, Zentropa International Netherlands
Cast: Trine Dyrholm, Ulrich Thomsen, Helene Reingaard Neumann, Martha Sofie Wallstrøm Hansen, Julie Agnete Vang, Fares Fares
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Screenwriters: Thomas Vinterberg, Tobias Lindholm
Cinematographer: Jesper Tøffner
Editors: Anne Østerud, Janus Billeskov Jansen
Producers: Sisse Graum Jørgensen, Morten Kaufmann
Music: Fons Merkies
Costumes: Ellen Lens
Sales company: Trust Nordisk
No rating, 90 minutes