Goran and Sven have been cleared for adoption and are given the option to adopt Swedish orphan “Patrik 1,5,” but when Patrik arrives, he turns out not to be the little boy they were expecting. A comma was misplaced, and the boy they receive is a 15-year-old homophobe with a criminal past.
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)
Rated R for some language and brief sexual content
The Birdcage (1996), Reinas (2005), The Wedding Banquet (1993), Law of Desire (1987)… many good films have been made about gay people’s relationships with each other and their straight friends and families. Ella Lemhagen’s 2008 drama-comedy Patrik 1,5 is the first film I have seen from the director but joins the above movies in the category of watchable gay comedies.
The plot goes as follows: Göran and Sven Skoogh (Gustaf Skarsgård and Torkel Petersson) are a happily married gay couple who have recently moved into an idyllic new suburb and are anxious to adopt a baby. However, they find their dream difficult to realize since no foreign country is willing to give a child to a gay couple and suitable Swedish babies are difficult to find. They are overjoyed upon hearing that an orphaned 18-month old baby has become available for adoption but are dismayed when their baby Patrik turns out to be a 15-year old homophobic delinquent (Thomas Ljungman) due to a typographical error in the adoption documents.
With a premise like this, one could expect the story to be a sappy tale of overcoming prejudices which carries a laughably obvious message like “gays are people too” but luckily that is not the whole point of Patrik 1,5. Sure, Sven and Göran do encounter homophobia, ranging from kids calling them names to the neighbours “forgetting” to send them an invitation to a house party, but ultimately the story focuses much more on the characters’ relationships with each other, be they gay or not. In fact, the movie does not find it necessary at all to specifically point out that it is OK to be gay as it goes without saying right from the start. A less subtle film could have been built entirely around stereotypes like effeminate clothing, lispy voices and giggly flamboyancy but the couple in Patrik 1,5 is completely ordinary and very likable (if also a bit generic and unmemorable, like average people are) – the film laughs with them, not at them. A downside would be that in its quest for ordinariness, the film does not differ very much from many other movies about parenthood.
Although the overall mood and “message” of the film are thoroughly sympathetic, its basis as a feel-good dramedy lessens the effect of the serious drama plot regarding Göran’s suspicions of Sven not being the right guy for him after all. More masculine than his partner, Sven is not free of prejudices himself and acts in a very hostile manner toward Patrik who always comes across as more scared than tough (even surprisingly so, being a convicted delinquent and all). When the focus is subsequently turned to the budding friendship of Göran and Patrik, the gay theme becomes secondary and the film plays out like any family drama of a sullen kid opening up in a loving family. Cheesiness is not entirely avoided although the actors do a very good job throughout, particularly Skarsgård and Petersson as the lead couple.
Besides the cheese, other complaints about the movie could include things like occasionally overly shaky camera work and the somewhat underdeveloped character of Sven’s daughter Isabell (Amanda Davin). The hostilities between the super-friendly Göran and the secretly sensitive Patrik also dissolve unrealistically quickly but I guess they wanted to keep the mood on the lighter side after all so wallowing in past traumas could not be paid too much attention. Nonetheless, I liked Lemhagen’s film alright and greatly prefer it to, for instance, the Adam Sandler comedy I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007) that wanted both to make fun of gays and promote their acceptance at the same time. In the end, Patrik 1,5 is certainly a movie about more than just gay issues and can be recommend to anyone looking for a positive little tale of family relationships.
Director: Ella Lemhagen
Writers: Michael Druker (play), Ella Lemhagen
Stars: Gustaf Skarsgård, Torkel Petersson, Tom Ljungman
Format : Matroska
Format version : Version 4 / Version 2
File size : 3.33 GiB
Duration : 1 h 42 min
Overall bit rate : 4 664 kb/s