Thomas Vinterberg’s The Commune may look like a Danish take on The Ice Storm, and while it does share themes of upper-middle-class types experimenting with the loosened sexual mores of the 1970s, it zigs just when you’d expect it to zag, and it’s far more compassionate toward its characters. Erik (Ulrich Thomsen) is a disgruntled architecture professor whose recently deceased father leaves him the 5,000-square-foot family home, far too big and expensive for him and his TV-anchor wife Anna (Trine Dyrholm).
Bored with the rather unpleasant Erik as her constant companion, Anna suggests they bring in several other people and give the whole communal-living thing a try. (It’s the 1970s.) Meanwhile, Erik enters into an affair with his student Emma (Helene Reingaard Neumann), a 24-year-old who may as well be a younger clone of Anna. The heart of The Commune is in fact not the commune itself, but rather the relationship that develops between Anna and Emma as they try to make the triangle work under one roof. (Again, it’s the 1970s.) It’s also remarkable how other than being young and conventionally pretty, Emma is not played up as a sex object; Vinterberg’s camera never even ogles her breasts. Hopefully, there won’t be an American remake, because there’s no way it wouldn’t not screw that up.
Opens Friday at the Opera Plaza Cinema.