The Commune (2016)

The Commune

The Commune (Kollektivet) is Thomas Vinterberg’s mocking payback for the emotional damage of a childhood spent growing up in one.

Come together

by Mark Wilshin

The Commune

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Based on his own play cowritten with Mogens Rukov, The Commune is perfect for an ensemble cast, featuring multiple stories from different perspectives. It’s loosely based on Vinterberg’s own experience of growing up in a commune, but in the age of free love and collectivism, it’s a story of lost, young and unrequited loves. Alongside Vilad’s unreturned desire for Freja (Martha Sofie Wallstrøm Hansen) and Freja’s romance with Peter, there’s the trial set for Erik (Ulrich Thomsen) and Anna (Trine Dyrholm) when he falls in love with architecture student Emma (Helene Reingaard Neumann and Vinterberg’s wife). The commune comes about through a boredom and openness in Anna, the willingness of the family to share their freshly inherited mansion with others in order to pay their bills soon extending to free love when Anna submits to Erik’s affair, even inviting Emma to stay in their collective home. It’s a self-imposed trial in the name of keeping the family together and upholding the status quo, but the pain it causes is desperately obvious to all.

Despite a brilliant performance from Trine Dyrholm, who carries the film’s best scenes as she descends into alcoholism and depression, The Commune doesn’t quite run the road of her emancipation from self-mutilating would-be libertarian to independent woman. Instead, Vinterberg’s film lingers on myriad details, at times appearing as a metaphor for Danish immigration and at others as a lesson in having one’s cake and eating it. It’s perhaps a shame that The Commune loses its individual focus, but that’s the point, I guess.

The Commune was premiered at the 66th Berlin Film Festival and is released on 29 July 2016 in the UK.

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