It must be quite something to have Ingmar Bergman, a man never given to easy enthusiasm, exclaim that your first feature is a masterpiece, yet that's exactly what happened to Swedish director Lukas Moodysson, who made "Show Me Love" in 1998 at the age of 29. He was also awarded Best European Film by the European Film Academy.
Perhaps this moment of giddiness has scrambled his ideas, for he makes a pretty elementary mistake in introducing his plot, developing it to a degree, then all but abandoning it. Elisabeth is a city housewife and mother who - boxed in by her dull, oppressive husband - escapes (with her two kids) to a commune run by her brother Göran, and thus gains in confidence and ambition. The year is 1975.
What really intrigues Moodysson is the commune itself, and it's as if he just can't wait to kick his perfunctory storyline into touch. His notion of a commune seems amusingly spot-on: a set-up in which big ideas spring from small minds, it includes a slob who can't cover his laziness by claiming that 'washing up is bourgeois', a blinkered, unfeeling book-junkie whose post-coital chat is composed of stern socialist-speak, and the insipidly unassertive Göran, who is so anxious not to show the slightest hint of authority that he lives in a state of idiotic timidity. To illustrate liberalism gone mad, there is even an eight-year-old who not only smokes and drinks but is named Tet after the Tet Offensive in Vietnam.
Entertaining, insightful and ironic though the director's portrait of a commune undoubtedly is (feeding into his main theme, that life is complex, everyone's an individual), he eventually gives us endless illustrations of the same thing. Lots of observation, little plot.