And teenager makes three in 'Patrick, Age 1.5' 

The Swedish comedy “Patrik, Age 1.5” has a premise born for the greenlight: A gay adoptive couple’s dream-come-true baby, thanks to a decimal-point typo, is actually a hostile, homophobic teen.

All the troubled kid needs is a loving home, of course, and as all three protagonists journey toward their place in such sunshine, the story risks becoming as sugary and shallow as the suburban villages it is satirizing. What saves things is the winning touch of writer- director Ella Lemhagen, who offsets these shortcomings with humanity and charm.

Part big-screen sitcom, part anti-homophobia farce, and part quirky- village slice-of-lifer, the story, adapted from Michael Druker’s play, transpires in a Swedish hamlet that, like the pop tunes on the soundtrack, has a candied quality. Here, Goran (Gustaf Skarsgard) and Sven (Torkel Petersson), a legally married gay couple, are settling into their new home. It includes a picket fence and a nursery awaiting the final component of their domestic nirvana – a 1.5-year- old boy named Patrik, they learn, elatedly, from the adoption letter.

The euphoria vanishes, however, when Patrik (Thomas Ljungman) arrives in the form of a 15-year-old with a criminal record and an aversion to “homos.” And the scenario intensifies when Goran allows Patrik to stay while Social Services finds him a permanent home.

Goran bonds with Patrik, who demonstrates gardening skills, while Sven wants none of the arrangement. The situation tears the couple apart.

As questions involving the fate of Goran and Sven’s marriage, and of Patrik’s search for stability, play out, the film is too predictable and superficial to do justice to its potentially compelling material. 

We get too much of Patrik, who, unsurprisingly, softens and whose scenes with Goran border on the hokey. This comes at the expense of Goran and Sven, whose relationship Lemhagen might have made as multidimensional and gripping as that of the couple in “The Kids Are All Right,” a better film about a marriage socked by an unexpected development in the family scheme. This lack of depth makes serious emotional investment difficult.

Yet at the same time, the movie is engaging and genuinely sweet, and Lemhagen shades the lightness with needed seriousness.

Her depictions of village eccentricities are amusing, and the shots she takes at homophobia in its innumerable forms, from bratty bigoted neighbor children to adults who don’t invite the gay pair to their parties, effectually show what the guys deal with daily. The performances are appealing and the supporting characters entertaining.
All totaled: a midsummer cutie, but little more.

MOVIE REVIEW

Patrik, Age 1.5

Two and a half stars

Starring Gustaf Skarsgard, Torkel Petersson, Thomas Ljungman,  Annika Hallin
Written and directed by Ella Lemhagen
Not rated
Running time 1 hour 38 minutes

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