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Patrik, Age 1.5

Dir: Ella Lemhagen

Rating 4.0/5.0

Regent Releasing

100 Minutes

How often do we find that our old mental and emotional conditioning gets in the way of seeing things with unbiased clarity? Oftentimes it’s those programs that prevent us from experiencing life without prejudice and prevents us from allowing outcomes play out without projecting our expectations upon them. In Patrik, Age 1.5, Sven (Torkel Petersson) and Göran (Gustaf Skarsgård)are a gay couple who have recently moved to a small, middle class town and have decided to adopt a child. Göran has taken a position as the town doctor in a tiny clinic. He longs desperately to adopt a small child or a baby to raise now that he has the proverbial cute house in the suburbs with a garden and a white picket fence. He is an idealist, very naive and extremely trusting, approaching life and those who he encounters with an open and gentle heart. Sven, on the other hand, has come out of a conventional marriage with a resentful ex-wife and an angry, shut-down goth daughter, both of which are still in his life. Sven, addicted to cigarettes and booze, approaches the adoption with a conditioned leeriness, afraid to become a father once more.

When the proposed adoption finally happens the couple find themselves as the adoptive parents of a 15 year old who shows up unexpectedly at their door instead of the expected 1.5 year old baby. On top of this, the boy is a troubled, rough and intensely homophobic kid with a criminal record that includes theft and assault. This mistake is all due to a minor typographical error regarding the child’s age on the adoption papers. Because the adoption agency is closed for four days, the couple and the young thug are forced to endure that time together.

Director Ella Lemhagen skillfully takes each character through this series of events and interactions. Sven and Patrik repeatedly physically threaten each other and the couple finds itself spiraling into a breakup. Göran, with his unconditional and gentle love, gradually melts Patrik’s hardened exterior and the boy relaxes his guard. The couple also eventually finds renewed mutual compassion and understanding for each other and as the film progresses, each character goes through a slow healing period where trust, forgiveness and the establishment of self acceptance prevails. Each of the characters in this triad emerges with a stronger respect for themselves and for the others in the relationship.

The most surprising and touching aspect of Patrik, Age 1.5 are its characters, who learn to mutually treat each other as human beings by letting go of conditioned fears and deep rooted judgments. “You learn to live with the scars,” Sven shares with Patrik in a poignant moment. Sometimes that is the best any of us can do.

by Allyn Sterling
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