Patrik 1,5 - An Official Selection in the 2008 AFI Fest

Gustaf Skarsgård and Torkel Petersson in "Patrik 1,5"

In Patrik, 1,5, Göran (Gustaf Skarsgård) and Sven (Torkel Petersson) are a married couple in the throes of change. They have moved into a new house in a lovely little neighborhood overrun with happy child-filled families, cocktail parties and picket fences. With a longing gaze that practically epitomizes a male biological clock, Göran is soon beside himself with joy at the news that the couple has been approved by the government to adopt a child. Sven is less excited about the idea. He’s the restless one of the two and returns to his old vices of drinking and smoking, trying to keep his anxiety at bay since this will be his second domestic life (His first being a heterosexual relationship which produced a fairly amiable divorce from wife Eva [Annika Hallin] and now rebellious and hostile teenaged daughter, Isabell [Amanda Davin]).

Sorting through mistaken identities

For a month, the couple prepares for the arrival of their new 15-month old son Patrik. Sure enough, at the end of the month, Patrik (Thomas Ljungman) arrives, only he is not 15 months old, he’s 15 years old. The couple in their excitement ignored one ill-fated typographical error. Beyond the misplaced comma, Patrik is exactly as described. A troubled child in need of a stable loving home. Patrik has been in and out of homes for a decade following the death of his mother and has been known to resort to violent and thievery as a means of survival. His weapon of choice: knives.

Thomas Ljungman in "Patrik 1,5"

Teenager Patrik is not happy to have been placed with a gay couple and makes no attempt to express that in the most hostile language possible. Sven freaks out to have a thug who likes knives in his home. It is Göran who must remain calm and keep the peace until the long weekend is over and the mixup can be addressed at the social Services office. Unfortunately, the situation is not a mix-up at all, the couple is the only one who said they would take him, there is no 15-month-old child. In the end, Göran must find a way to win Patrik’s trust until they find the boy and home, despite the severe strain the boy’s presence is on his ailing marriage.

The new modern family order

It is a great little film. It’s funny, heartwarming and honest in its portrayals of homophobia, marriage and the serious question of who will care for our disenfranchised youth, whose only crime was a harsh life of orphandom. The film is in Swedish with English subtitles with performances that are lovely and understated. Director Ella Hemhagen does a great job of telling each story with balance and sensitivity. This is a wonderful story about how “broken people” can make each other whole again. Look for it, it’s terrific.

Patrik 1,5 is an official Selection of the 2008 AFI Fest happening October 30, 2008 through November 9, 2008.

http://www.afi.com/onscreen/afifest/2008/

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