Sweden Release Date: 09-12-2008
Directed by: Ella Lemhagen
- Gustaf Skarsgard, as
- Goran Skoogh
- Torkel Petersson, as
- Sven Skoogh
- Thomas Ljungman as
- Patrik Eriksson
Goran, Sven and Patrik
Patrik, Age 1.5 is a slightly unconventional, feel good movie from Sweden. Although you can see almost everything coming long before it gets there, you will enjoy the journey and find yourself cheering along the way.
Goran and Sven are a married gay couple that have just moved to an ideal neighborhood. Everyone has green lawns, flower beds and children. Goran wants all of those things very badly. After getting approved to adopt, a letter arrives from social services stating that "Patrik, age 1,5" will be arriving at their home soon. Goran and Sven assume 1,5 mean Patrik is a year and a half old. They have a nursery all ready to be used. Instead, a 15 year old knocks on their door.
Patrik's paperwork states he has committed numerous crimes, When Patrik finds out he has been sent to a gay couple he makes derogatory comments to them. Goran is not at all comfortable with him and tries to return him to social services, only to find out they are closed for the next three days. In one of the funniest scenes they go to a police station and ask if they can leave him there. Sven ends up arrested and they all end up going back home together with Patrik yelling at an officer, "If I get raped it is your fault."
Sven was once married and left his wife and daughter for Goran. He likes country chick music and is not nearly as excited to adopt as Goran is. He is also an alcoholic. The stress of Patrik pushes him back to drinking. He and Goran fight and break up. Goran is a doctor who acts like Mr Rogers. He wears sweaters and adores children. Patrik is not his first choice for a son but he allows Patrik to stay with him while social services try to find him a new home. Goran and Patrik get to know each other as they work in the garden. Patrik gets over his homophobic ways. He and Svens teenage daughter become friends.
My favorite line in the movie is when Sven shows his tattoos to Patrik. One has been partially removed, leaving a huge scar. Sven says, "You learn to live with the scars." Patrik has to learn to live with the fact that he never knew his biological father and his mother died in front of him when he was a child.
Goran has to come to grips with the fact that life is not as ideal as he wants it to be, no matter where he lives. Early in the movie he finds out that all the neighbors are having a party that he and Sven were not invited to. At one point Patrik teaches Goran how to fight, even though Goran says he does not believe in violence. Later a neighbor proves him wrong after offending him.
Although Goran wants a baby and Patrik wants a traditional family, they slowly discover that they are in fact, just what each other needs. Patrik is a loner, with a criminal past. Would he really fit in with a "normal" family? Sven is a drunk, he is hardly the right choice to raise a baby. Patrik's mother was a drug addict, he is not bothered by Sven passing out in the garden.
Several times in the movie you think everything is about to be okay and then it takes a different turn. These guys need each other. Sure it occasionally gets cheesier than a fondue party, but its heart is in the right place. The final scene is one of the happiest I have watched since Billy Elliot's dad crossed the picket line. Be sure to stay through the credits.
Goran, Sven and Patrik.
Patrick, Age 1.5 is a heartwarming, feel-good movie without any saccharine aftertaste. The cast is excellent. Goran and Sven feel like a real couple. Their passion and love for each other are obvious. But the introduction of Patrik into their lives brings their differences and problems to a boiling point. Goran is the more nurturing one. He likes to cook and garden. Sven has a tougher exterior and behaves in a more traditionally masculine manner.
Patrik is perfectly portrayed by Thomas Ljungman. He is believable as a juvenile delinquent who underneath is really a lonely little boy yearning for someone to love him. As Eric said, the conclusion is never really in doubt. You know this one will have a happy ending although it takes a few twists and turns getting there.
The bond that forms between Goran and Patrik is handled sweetly. Goran genuinely seems concerned for Patrik and that is something the young boy hasn’t felt before. I was moved watching their relationship develop. Whereas Sven is initially unable to connect with Patrik, Goran isn’t offended by his homophobic comments. He realizes that it is merely ignorance that causes Patrik to call them pedophiles (although he pronounces the word wrong until Goran corrects him).
Patrik becomes a hero of sorts to the neighborhood kids through his skateboarding skills. These same kids had previously made fun of Goran, Sven and Patrik, calling them “homos” from a safe distance. The reactions of their straight neighbors are handled well. In a Hollywood movie the neighbors would have been portrayed as ignorant bigots until the gays (with their superior morality) showed them the error of their ways. This movie takes a more subtle and balanced approach.
Patrik, Age 1.5 is a wonderfully written and acted comedy about a different sort of family. It will most certainly put a glow in your heart and a smile on your face.
Thomas Ljungman and Gustaf Skarsgard in Patrick, Age 1.5.
This is one of those rare movies where we all seem to be in complete agreement. This is a feel good movie of the very best kind. It doesn't feature many surprises, but it hardly matters when a film is this enjoyable.
Patrick mentioned how the handling of the neighbors would have been different in an American version and we'll soon see if he was right as there is an American remake in the works. It will be interesting to see if this newer version steps onto a soapbox rather than making its point in a more subtle manner as it's allowed to do here in the original. This version manages to avoid stereotypes in general, with neither Goran or Sven being flamboyantly gay in the traditional Hollywood fashion. The happy ending though, is straight out of Hollywood.
Although the general mood is sweet rather than laugh out loud, there are a few genuinely funny moments. The fussy police officer and his insistence that they "respect the safety zone" is one of the funniest scenes, but as Eric mentioned, the funniest scene comes during the credits as the film provides one final sight gag.
Perhaps the film's greatest achievement is, as Patrick wrote, its ability to be heartwarming without any trace of saccharine. Apart from the same sex couple angle, it actually reminded me of one of those old live action Walt Disney films. It has that same sort of family friendly, warm and gentle humor feel to it where everything works out all right in the end. Now we'll have to see if Hollywood can keep that feeling intact or if they'll screw it up.
Photos © Copyright Film i Vast (2008)