By Jeff Walsh
I'll be honest. I almost skipped the press screening for Patrik, Age 1.5 (which is now playing in the Bay Area and select cities, details here).
The premise seemed too cute: a gay couple who think they're about to adopt a year-and-a-half old baby, only to find there was a typographical error and they get a 15 year old who is an anti-gay delinquent.
You just knew it was going to have some touching moment where they talked, found common ground, and ended with a warm hug that Patrik wouldn't pull back from. It is nearly a sitcom premise! I don't watch the Hallmark Channel at home, so why go out to the movies to see it?
But the fact that it won the audience award at the Frameline gay film festival here in San Francisco is what made me curious enough to attend. I just don't think a very special episode of Blossom is the kind of thing they would all vote for, especially for a Swedish film for which they all had to read subtitles.
As it turned out, this charming, beautiful movie took every expectation I had and defied it. Every character had their own engaging narrative, and nothing worked out as it might seem at first glance.
My favorite part, though, is that there was no leaden, talky scenes where Goran and his partner Sven talk about their issues, or try to convince Patrik that being gay is OK. Instead, they all give each other room and let things find their own paths.
All the performances were top-notch in this film and the enthusiastic applause at the end of the screening was earned, offered freely, and it really just put you in a good mood walking out of the theater.
I am typically cynical about gay movies because most of them suck, and it's films like Patrik 1.5 that make me suffer through all the dreary ones. But when you find a good one, it is just so worth it.
Patrik 1.5 is the bar by which gay cinema should be judged.