The Commune– Film Review by Frank L.
Directed by Thomas Vintenberg
Writers: Tobias Lindholm, Thomas Vinterberg
Stars: Ulrich Thomsen, Fares Fares, Trine Dyrholm
Set in the nineteen seventies (think flared trousers) in Copenhagen, Erik (Ulrich Thomsen), following the death of his father, has inherited the huge family house in which he was brought up. Anna (Trine Dyrholm), his wife, a celebrity television newsreader wants to move into it. Meanwhile Freja (Martha Sofia Wallstrom Hansen), their fourteen year old daughter, is also quite taken by the idea. Erik is worried by the expense. Anna has the idea of creating a commune of like-minded friends to fill the house to defray the expenses. She wants to get away from the safety and boring quality of their current existence. Erik is won over and they start to put together a collection of suitably hairy-faced men and quirkily dressed women. Initially it all goes well with loads of smoking of fags, communal cooking and many bottles of wine and beer quietly consumed to keep everyone lubricated.
The nature of a commune is that it suffers internal stresses and strains which tend to be difficult to resolve. This commune is no different. However the innovative twist in the story is that Erik gets the hots for Emma (Helene Reingaard Neumann) one of his students and many years his junior, who is not a member of the commune. Of course difficulties then ensue. Anna and Freja have to adjust to the new situation as do the other members of the commune.
Trine Dyrholm is impressive as Anna as her world disintegrates. Her old life may have been boring but it was safe. Thomsen is absolutely credible as Erik, as is his infatuated with Emma. However it is Hansen as Freja who has the most demanding role as she navigates the minefield of her parents’ disintegrating relationship and her own sexual awakening. The rest of the commune barely matter as each is playing a character of barely two dimensions.
The entire movie is an enjoyable look at the nineteen seventies which on the basis of this film was a carefree idyll with a triangular love affair thrown in to create a bit of dramatic tension. Commune is a nostalgic glimpse at that world which in 2016 appears to have been irretrievably lost if in fact it ever existed!