Patrik, Age 1.5: What Makes a Family

January 10, 2009
The subject of same-sex parenting gets the spirited royal treatment in the Swedish film Patrik, Age 1.5, which screened at the 20th Annual Palm Springs Film Festival over the weekend. With a fine blend of humor, emotion and unpredictability, this may be one of the most amusing and humane films you'll have the chance to see all year when Patrik gets a U.S. theatrical release this summer. Married couple Goran (Gustaf Skarsgard) and Sven (Torkel Petersson) are settling into their life in picket-fence suburbia while Goran anxiously awaits the arrival of an adopted child, frustrated that social services is unable (or unwilling) to place a child with a gay couple. They're thrilled when a boy becomes available, but instead of a promised "age 1.5" Patrik, they get a troubled, orphaned 15-year-old (Tom Ljungman), who is also homophobic. Both sides want the presumed bureaucratic error corrected, but as their days together drag on, they grow to a new place of acceptance and understanding of what really makes a family. Inspired by a three-person stage play, writer/director Ella Lemhagen smartly opens up the story to introduce an engaging cast of supporting characters, and her skillful direction creates humorous moments to relentlessly charming results. Lemhagen was in Palm Springs for the screening and told the audience that adoption for same-sex couples has only been legal in Sweden since 2003 and, according to her, five years later not one child has yet been placed with a same-sex couple in that country.

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