User reviews :
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.