Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Cast: Ulrich Thomsen, Fares Fares, Trine Dyrholm, Julie Agnete Vang, Helene Reingaard Neumann, Martha Sofie Wallstrøm Hansen, Lars Ranthe, Mads Reuther, Magnus Millang,
Runnung Time: 111 minutes
The initial set-up of THE COMMUNE strikes rather odd; after inheriting his father’s house Erik (Thomsen) and wife Anna (Dryholm), along with teenage daughter Freja (Wallstrøm Hansen), decide to move there and set up a commune between friends that takes the total number living under the roof to nine. Things seem to going along nicely until Erik falls for one of his students, Emma (Neumann), tensions begin to arise in the house as loyalties seem divided.
What is here though, under the surface, is a very astute character study, primarily of Erik, Anna and Freja, but director Thomas Vinterberg manages to let each character become relatable in their own way. Vinterberg delicately balances the good times with the bad, there’s a lot of laughs here, especially in early scenes of the group coming together and having one of their House Meetings where one character, not surprisingly, bursts into tears and another condones his burning of others’ belongings. However, Vinterberg knows when to turn the switch and therefore the mood of the film, the best example of which comes during one of the House Meetings where the tension, previously bubbling under the surface, comes to the fore.
The plot is nothing we’ve not seen before but the setting of it is and, therefore, it offers a slightly different angle on the feelings and opinions around Erik’s affair. The commune operates on a basis of everything needs to be done for the good of the people within it, which is where the friction happens. Or does it? Allegiances seems to go one way and then another but the idea of the commune never leaves and our characters must revolve that notion, that they’re not bigger than it.
THE COMMUNE boasts fantastic performances, mainly from Dryholm who, in the third act, completely steals the film. She carries the feelings of the audience with Anna and encompasses the battle between her emotion and considering the situation they are in. The more minor cast members do a fine job of making the most of their individual moments on-screen, much of the comedic relief comes from Lars Ranthe’s Ole who meanders around the film as if he’s living his own.
THE COMMUNE places a familiar drama plot in an unfamiliar territory, but what Vinterberg does with is make it feel fresh. With Dryholm’s great performance, THE COMMUNE is worth seeking out.
THE COMMUNE is released July 29th in the UK.