Not a comedy as billed, the outstanding Swedish film "Patrik 1.5" instead deftly uses humor to set off an often wrenching, emotionally charged drama. Director Ella Lemhagen not only sustains a light, sensitive touch throughout but also has so deftly adapted Michael Druker's play it's hard to believe that her script is not an original.
FOR THE RECORD: A review of the movie "Patrik Age 1.5" in Friday's Calendar gave its Motion Picture Assn. of America rating as R. The film will now be released as unrated.
Sven (Torkel Petersson) and Göran (Gustaf Skarsgard) are a 40ish married couple who move to a suburb. To make their happiness complete they apply to adopt a baby, but a clerical error transforms their request for a baby no older than 18 months — 1.5 years — into a statement that they would accept a 15-year-old. They end up with Patrik (Thomas Ljungman), a smart but angry kid who has spent most of his life in a series of foster homes and finally an orphanage. He has a record of delinquency — and an intense homophobia.
Stuck with the youth over a three-day weekend, Sven on his own agrees to keep Patrik until he can be placed in another family. This most observant and involving film has three strengths: It shows that a strongly family-oriented, middle-class suburbia is initially hardly idyllic for gays; the arrival of Patrik reveals fissures in Sven and Goran's relationship; and that Lemhagen, who plays against predictability at every turn, maintains suspense right up to the final minutes as to how everything may turn out for the three. "Patrik, Age 1.5" is deeply felt and expresses a belief in people's capacity for change but makes no promises that it will happen.
"Patrik, Age 1.5." Rated R for some language and brief sexual content. Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes. In Swedish with English subtitles. At the Nuart, West Los Angeles, through Thursday.