"Patrik, Age 1.5" is a fine small film from Sweden that has some great things to say about compassion, honesty in relationships and seeing past stereotypes. The film has a marvelous cast and is deftly directed by Ella Lemhagen. In a nutshell, "Patrik" is the story of a gay professional couple (Goran and Sven), living a "straight" suburbanite life style, who apply to the local social services administration to adopt a baby. Their application is approved, but even in socially progressive Sweden, babies are rarely placed with gay adoptive parents. Out of the blue, the disappointed couple is informed that they have been chosen to parent Patrik, a 1.5 year old boy with a troubled past. When Patrik arrives at their door, Goran and Sven discover that the letter from social services contained a small typo and that Patrik is actually a 15 year old with serious attitude, including some strongly stated homophobic bias. As the couple tries to rectify what they perceive as an error, a bonding process with Patrik begins. Goran, the more domestic and nurturing member of the couple, in particular begins to see Patrik's situation with compassion. His partner, Sven, is rapidly moving in the opposite direction and eventually precipitates a split when he repudiates the whole domestic setup. The rest of the film is about the growth of the two adults as human beings and the adolescent Patrik into a trusting young adult.
The cast of "Patrik" is uniformly excellent and the actors relate well and credibly to each other. The real standouts in the film are Gustaf Skarsgard, who plays the ever optimistic and loving Goran and Tom Ljungman who plays Patrik of the title role. Skarsgard gives Goran emotional strength and humanity that prevails against the several crises that are written into the script. Goran is able to endure everyday homophobia, a partner with a lot of baggage (history of alcohol abuse, inability to emotionally commit, etc.) and a host of bureaucratic obstacles in pursuit of parenthood. Over the course of the film, he has the audience completely in his pocket, even when he gives up something that he wants very much in order to do the right thing for someone he loves.
This is a sweet and effecting film that will require at least one handkerchief for most viewers. Highly recommended.