Berlinale: The Commune ( Kollektivet )

The Commune (Kollektivet)
Directed by Thomas Vinterberg
Starring Trine Dyrholm, Ulrich Thomsen, Helene Reingaard Neumann, Martha Sofie Wallstrøm Hansen and Lars Ranthe

by Joanna Orland

At the heart of The Commune is the story of a woman who seemingly has it all yet wants more.  When that more is introduced, her life unravels as does her emotional stability as she spirals into a deep yet volatile depression.  Trine Dyrholm gives a powerful performance with emotional fragility that is captivating to watch on screen.  She carries this film with effortless ease as the events of The Commune unfold around her.

Anna has it all – a successful television career, a doting husband and a beautiful teenage daughter.  But like so many women, she feels unfulfilled and wants more – stating to her husband that in spite of her love for him, if she had only him to talk to for the rest of her life she would go mad.  And so Anna introduces the idea of communal living as opportunity arises when her husband Erik inherits his father’s large home which he can’t afford on his own family’s salary.  They begin by bringing in their friend Ole, as it has always been Anna’s dream to live with him, and in time they add a collection of friends to their communal house.

Erik is not keen on the idea of communal living and merely agrees to please his wife.  While Anna gets everything that she wants – career, husband, daughter and now a house full of friends she’s dreamed of living with – Erik feels isolated in the commune with a huge distance developing between him and Anna.  He begins an affair with his student Emma, a woman who eventually joins him in living in the commune – a living arrangement Erik now finds himself at ease with, while Anna is the one no longer keen.  Falling apart piece by piece as she loses her marriage, her career, and even her daughter who begins to seek companionship outside of the commune’s inhabitants, Anna is on a path of self-destruction.

Not Vinterberg’s finest work, The Commune is a lighthearted narrative film at best, with a strong dramatic performance from Trine Dyrholm carrying it through.



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