Rating: (5 out of 5) [Critic’s Pick!] Friday, 10/16/2009, 9:00 PM Feature presentation, $10 at Shakespeare Theatre’s Harman Center for the Arts Swedish with Englsih subtitles
IT’S HARD TO imagine a film whose premise relies entirely on a mistaken decimal point, but that’s the idea behind Patrik 1.5. Göran (Gustaf Skarsgård) and Sven (Torkel Petersson) are settling down in the suburbs, and while their neighbors and coworkers are far from accepting of the whole gay thing, it’s time to make a family. When baby Patrik (Thomas Ljungman) turns out to be 15 instead of 1.5 years old, what was supposed to be two men and a baby turns into two queens and a homophobic juvenile delinquent. Sven hits the roof, and the bottle, and Göran hits rock bottom allowing Patrik to quickly pull at the threads binding the two together.
Writer and director Ella Lemhagen is very measured with her pacing and deliberate with the film’s progression. Never boring, the film takes its time in raising the stakes and developing the couple’s relationship with Patrik, made more difficult as Sven and Göran have other homophobic sources to deal with. The picture-perfect neighborhood is slowly explored to reveal a secret behind every front door, proving that anyone can be a drama queen.
Moving performances by Skarsgård and Petersson enhance Lemhagen’s story, but Ljungman really shines as Patrik. The young actor lives up to the challenge of playing the troubled orphan and Lemhagen uses devices like a baby camera to show Patrik’s true side, a sly way of peeking behind his rough exterior.
Patrik 1.5 is one of those films you can love while knowing that the love is going to fly right out the window if it doesn’t end the way you’d like it to. And given everything that Sven and Göran endure, any ending seems possible. Fortunately, Lemhagen concludes as strongly as she begins.
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