I did it. I googled movies about communes and intentional communities and I watched them all. Bad news, none are very accurate but many are entertaining. The good news is, that as a filmmaker, this gives me the opportunity to make the movie that knows the reality! (Or at least the director would have an accurate background – me)
Wanderlust (2012) stars Paul Rudd and Jennifer Anniston and it’s very cute. They get a few things right like calling it an intentional community and not a commune and poke fun at that. They also have the members roll their eyes when the founder tells the same story again and again. Yet it veers more to cults (like most movies about communes do) and even says “I drank the kool aid.” As a movie, it is a lot of fun.
The Commune (2016). I just saw that this has some truth that the filmmaker lived in one as a kid but technically the Danish word is collective or cooperative and they all live in one house, but it is set in the 60s so that’s about accurate for the time.
I love how they barely started their community and they get tested right away. That is super true! It is a good look at meetings and people dealing with all sorts of bumps. I love the Danish casual culture to accept things like affairs and death, so less judgemental and fearful than us in the US. Well done and entertaining.
Together is a 2000 Swedish film and it’s wonderful. Great pace. Again, one house with a bunch of people living together intentionally. Set in the 70s. There are many funny scenes of political differences and who cleans up the house. They touch on loneliness and romance more than actual commune life. It shows more the end of the community and being replaced by other type of friendships and bonds. Fun to watch no matter what! As far as commune movies, this would be my favorite.
The Sacrament (2013), a found footage horror based on the Jonestown tragedy. It starts with a sister going for rehab from addiction then she finds god and community. It’s like Blair Witch leaves Maryland and goes to the tropics to build lodgings and form a cult. Can be tense, bloody, and, well, it’s a horror film. It slips from commune to cult but that can really happen.
Hideous Kinky(1998) is a memoir based on the childhood of Freud’s granddaughter. Her mother is a hippie traveling single mom and ends up with other hippies in Morocco. Shows the hippie life and unstable existence of her mom but not really an established intentional community. Very interesting and entertaining. I must admit, I love Kate Winslet’s performance in everything!
There is a movie called Postal that comes up but it’s not available yet. Who knows why?
Mister Lonely is a strange idea – a commune in Europe filled with celebrity impersonators. Less community living than an exploration of these characters and the beauty of the area. The filmmaker chooses dark themes. Deals more with animal husbandry and polyamory by choice or not, practicing tai chi ,and building a stage and performing shows. I also love the actor Diego Luna and he looks just like Micheal Jackson in this.The fascinating thing is the actors and filmmakers lived in the castle while filming and some stayed in character. Now that would have been an interesting documentary to watch!
Flashback (1990) with Dennis Hopper and Keith Sutherland. Never heard of it but a road trip movie story (I prefer Midnight Run with Robert De Niro from the same time period).The commune part is a bit of a spoiler but I”ll say it has to do with a flashback. Now the commune is defunct when they visit. The movie is a bunch of stereotypes remembering the 60s but lots of cute Easter Eggs to Easy Rider which Hopper directed, and even to Rebel Without a Cause which he acted in also.
Forever . I love one of the actors but in general this movie doesn’t make a lot of sense. You are very disoriented at the start and barely figure out how all these people came to live together and never really find out why. It is a cult without a cause. They all seem happy to live together and laugh even at the fights but we don’t know what they believe and why they all followed a doctor there to this house – it was even unclear if they just eat there and then have their own places or what? Nothing is clear in this film but great actors and had enough budget to not be super low budget. Sad and not an uplifting story at all though it does seem to ask about grief and hope.
Go Getter – It only has a few minutes at a commune that makes pottery. Great actors again but more of a road movie as the main character is looking for his brother and following his footsteps. Not my cup of tea and didn’t do well or get many great reviews.
That’s my summary. Please let me know if you find more and I’ll make some!