Patrik: Age 1.5

By Matt Prigge
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Aug. 17, 2010

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Sweden may have gay marriage, but at least as portrayed in the earnest dramedy Patrik, Age 1.5, it’s no less a hot spot for homophobic fuckheadery. Husbands Göran and Sven (Gustaf Skarsgard and Torkel Petersson) settle in suburbia, with results ranging from deer-in-headlights stares to vandalism by pint-sized ruffians. Göran works as a doctor, but his male patients won’t let him touch their prostate and redneck parents storm in to rescue their young squirt from his claws.

The couple wants to adopt a baby, but no country will hand over their orphans to gays. Sweden will, but only due to incompetence. A typo plants not a 1.5-year-old baby on their doorstep, but Patrik (Tom Ljungman) a 15-year-old delinquent homophobe with a history of knife crime.

Will this seething shit reform? Yes. Will his guardians learn a little something about, I dunno, tolerating an epithet-spewing runt suddenly placed in their Dolly Parton poster-adorned home? Not without throwing the more-butch Sven, who’s more nonplussed about being regularly called a pedo than his husband, under the bus, in a plot turn that’s more than a little underdeveloped and solved far too easily.

It’s impossible to consider Patrik, Age 1.5 without thinking of our own country’s gay-family salvo—The Kids Are All Right, natch—and it makes you really appreciate, then vastly overrate, the lively writing and characterizations Lisa Cholodenko brought to it. Kids has its problems, but it’s loose, lived-in, not hobbled by its agenda and even weirdly conservative in its family-first pleas. Patrik, meanwhile, is paint-by-numbers filmmaking, with nondescript performances, plodding pacing and predictable outcomes.

Writer/director Ella Lemhagen makes a couple attempts to spice up her film, notably by trying to convey their neighborhood as wacky—e.g., a crabby neighbor who doesn’t slow his car down for playing kids—but they’re too infrequent and too meh to stick. But as a dark portrayal of the straight world’s ability to cope with a world of equal rights, well, hey, this is what America’s future gay-marrieds have to look forward to.

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