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Patrik, Age 1.5: Or, the Joy of Typos

Updated on September 19, 2011

It's tough to adopt kids when you're gay, even in gay-friendly countries. That's what Sven (Torkel Petersson) and Goran (Gustaf Skarsgard), a middle-aged recently married gay couple learn when they try, in this Swedish comedy/drama. No foreign countries will allow their kids to be adopted by a gay couple, and there are precious few Swedish kids available.

However, one day they get notice that there finally is a kid, adorable little Patrik, age 1.5 years. They get really excited, but when the big day comes the Patrik who arrives on their doorstep isn't an adorable toddler, but in fact a teenaged juvenile delinquent with a criminal history (Tom Ljungman). You see, there was a typographical error on the form, and this Patrik is 15 years old, not 1.5. And he's a homophobe as well, terrified that Goran and Sven will rape him in his sleep.

Sven can't handle this, and he and Patrik cannot seem to stop pushing each other's buttons. Goran is a bit more tolerating, figuring they can tough it out until he and Sven get the baby they want and Patrik can be placed in a different home. When it becomes clear that neither of these outcomes are likely to happen, Sven and Goran are pushed to the brink, and Goran and Patrik have to get used to living together.

This film was fun enough, and is especially interesting in scenes between Goran and Patrik. Goran starts out viewing Patrik as little more than a thug (although he is more tolerant than Sven is), while Patrik is furious to be under the roof of a "homo." However, as the two begin to know each other their walls drop and they begin to really connect. These scenes are easily the most heartwarming part of the movie.

Unfortunately, Torkel Petersson's Sven is just not as interesting. This is mostly because the movie is mostly about Goran and Patrik, but that doesn't really excuse that Sven as a character is just not as complicated and therefore not as interesting as the other two, He's angry and gives in to his vices too easily, and is basically going through a mid-life crisis. I didn't really miss him when he wasn't onscreen.

This film, while focusing on Goran and Patrik, also makes the interesting decision to have many other stories obviously be going on in the periphery. All of the characters that come into the central three's lives obviously have things going on in their own lives, which only appear in passing on screen. While this makes the world of the movie more rich and real, it also has the disadvantage of making you occasionally want to know more about these periphery stories, for which there is little elaboration. We find out basically nothing about what happens to one of Goran's patients with prostate cancer, or why his nurse seemed to hate him at first, or what was the result of a neighbor who was cheating on his wife. It's all rather frustrating.

All in all, this is a decent enough movie, and well worth a watch, but I wouldn't put it on my top 10 gay-focused films. If you can rent it, do so, but it's not good enough to warrant a buy.


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