Patrik Age 1.5
It says, ” You may already be a winner!”

Theatrical Release Date: 08/20/2010 (USA), 09/12/2008 (Sweden)
Director: Ella Lemhagen
Cast: Gustaf Skarsgård, Torkel Petersson, Thomas Ljungman, Annika Hallin, Amanda Davin

Based on the play by Michael Druker, “Patrick Age 1.5″ is a sweet and heartwarming film from Sweden about a gay couple looking to adopt a baby. Thanks to a clerical error, instead of getting an infant, 15 year-old Patrik lands on their doorstep. Conflicts arise, compromises are reached, and make sure to bring some insulin in case of diabetic shock.

From a film making perspective, there’s nothing remarkable about writer/director Ella Lemhagen’s work here. Audiences should see every change of heart coming a mile away, most of the ‘action’ takes place in static environments (probably because of the source material being Druker’s play) and many of the musical cues are so cheesy, I’m worried about the lactose intolerant.

However, that doesn’t meant the film isn’t worth checking out. The performances, especially that of Gustaf Skarsgård (the more responsible of the parents-to-be) and Thomas Ljungman (the titular Patrik), ring true and hold together the predictable script. Skarsgård toes the line between pushover and protective father quite well, instilling the character with a tremendous amount of heart. Ljungman also must balance his character’s motivation, as both a product of the foster system which seems to have failed him and as the hopeful teen just looking for a family who will love him unconditionally.

Then there’s the not so subtle but generally honest approach to handling the extra difficulties gay couples encounter when trying to adopt. The powers that be want to reject their application, not progressive enough to understand that a stable home is all that should matter. The neighborhood kids constantly jeer and yell pejorative terminology whenever they pass the house (the adults try to be more discreet but fail miserably). Even Patrik, despite any real alternative, struggles to shed his intolerance and societally-inspired distrust of homosexuals.

What’s beautiful about the film is how Lemhagen and company handle these issues with a little humor, a good amount of standing up for what’s right and a consistent openness to bely any misguided notions. The best example of this comes when school children are sent to the doctor (Skarsgård) for vaccinations. One little girl, who’s been yelling derogatory names along with her peers, confesses to him that she doesn’t even know what the words mean. He calmly explains that a gay man is someone who falls in love with other men. With all the innocence a child can have, she simply acknowledges his statement and sees him as any other adult. When her Dad comes bursting in, yelling about how Skarsgård should stay away from his kids, the case for where hatred and prejudice comes from is settled quite clearly.

If you’re a fan of foreign cinema, and are just looking for a feel-good film with a bit of a message, then “Patrik Age 1.5″ is the perfect fit and it gets a 3.5 out of 5. I wish Lemhagen had significantly dialed back on the saccharine syrup that coats the film as a whole but it’s nice to see the issue of homosexual partners looking to start a family treated in such a sincere manner.