Delivers a formulaic-sounding conceit with enough unpredictability and downplayed sentiment to earn heartwarming emotions.

The junior-has-two-daddies (or mommies) hook is already becoming a tired staple in sitcom-ish indie cinema, but Ella Lemhagen’s “Patrik, Age 1.5″ delivers a formulaic-sounding conceit with enough unpredictability and downplayed sentiment to earn the heartwarming emotions that might too easily have arrived on cue. Sure to fly on the gay fest circuit, pic should easily translate those good vibes into offshore DVD sales.

Newbies to picket-fence suburbia, Goran (Gustaf Skarsgard) and Sven (Torkel Petersson) are anxious — well, mostly Goran is — to adopt a child, albeit frustrated that most countries won’t provide one to a same-sex couple. They’re thrilled when a Swedish boy suddenly becomes available. But instead of a promised “age 1.5″ Patrik, they get a sullen, orphaned 15-year-old (Tom Ljungman), veteran of foster homes and institutions. They’re appalled; so is he, having to cohabit with “homos” (whom he assumes are pederasts) until the presumed bureaucratic error can be fixed. Once a teenage thug himself, Sven is hostile, but Goran spies the good in their reluctant guest. Nicely mounted and played (especially by Skarsgard), this modest but skillful seriocomedy generally avoids the obvious, to winning results.

Patrik, Age 1.5

Sweden

Production

A Filmlance Intl. production, in association with Sonet Film, Film i Vast, Sveriges Television. (International sales: Svensk Filmindustri, Stockholm.) Produced by Tomas Michaelsson, Lars Blomgren. Executive producers, Pete Possne, Mathias Berggren, Tomas Eskilsson, Gunnar Carlsson. Directed, written by Ella Lemhagen, based on the play by Michael Druker.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Marek Septimus Wieser; editor, Thomas Lagerman; music, Fredrik Emilson; production designer, Lene Willumsen. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 5, 2008. Original title: Patrik 1,5. Running time: 101 MIN.

With

Gustaf Skarsgard, Torkel Petersson, Tom Ljungman, Annika Hallin, Jacob Erickson, Anette Sevreus.

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