IN THEATERS (SF) – “The Commune”

The Commune (2017; Dir.: Thomas Vinterberg)

GRADE: C+

By Daniel Barnes

*Opens today at the Landmark Opera Plaza in SF and the Landmark Shattuck in Berkeley.

An unexpected, Ang Lee-like pivot from Dogme 95 refugee Vinterberg, who follows up the blistering The Hunt and his vital version of Far from the Madding Crowd with this weightless and unworthy drama about Copenhagen communal living in the 1970s.  When frustrated architect Erik inherits a giant house from his father, he’s ready to sell, but his bored anchorwoman wife Anna wants to turn the place into a post-hippie commune.  Erik agrees, if only to appease Anna, and he generally behaves like the landowning autocrat that he is, but eventually finds that the wishy-washy moral relativism of communal life provides perfect cover to move in Anna’s much younger replacement.  That sexist discrepancy among self-defined social outcasts – the way that Erik can behave however he wants on his path, while Anna’s emotional needs are considered tacky and bourgeois – is the most interesting aspect of the film, but it only amounts to an obvious observation embedded in shapeless scenes that are embedded within a flighty narrative.  Ultimately, this feels like Vinterberg’s misguided attempt to recapture the fluttering chaos of his overpraised breakthrough The Celebration.