Set in 1970s Copenhagen, Thomas Vinterberg’s The Commune is somewhat less polished than his previous offerings, erring a little on the melodramatic. The story begins when uptight architecture professor Erik inherits his sprawling childhood home. His news anchor wife, Anna (Trine Dyrholm), talks him into inviting some friends and acquaintances to move in with them and their 14-year-old daughter, Freja. While Anna feels completely at ease in her new, crowded life, Erik is less comfortable with the commune’s lack of privacy and begins to look elsewhere for comfort.
The film gets off to a good start: there is a chirpy indie soundtrack and a light-hearted air. The supporting characters all seem promising but overall contribute very little, and the story suffers for it – the narrative is meandering, the pace unsteady. The central family’s changing bond is explored masterfully, but the fact that these events unfold in the less than traditional setting seems to have no bearing on the story. Their crumbling relationship doesn’t seem to affect any of their housemates and, outside of Freja’s briefly touched-upon bond with Vilads, the commune’s only other child, Anna and Erik’s tale is almost entirely self-contained.
Lack of any actual commune aside, The Commune is enjoyable, if a little predictable. The performances are excellent; Dyrholm, in particular, is incredibly powerful – and believable – as Anna, and Vinterberg is careful not to allow any of his characters to come across as too hammy. There are, here and there, a few truly brilliant scenes but too much of the film seems rushed or subdued. With so many underdeveloped subplots, The Commune may have better suited as a miniseries, but as it stands, it’s a fairly entertaining film.
The Commune is released nationwide on 29th July 2016.
Watch the trailer for The Commune here: