Directed By: Roy Anderson
Starring: Jessica Lundberg, Ollie Olson
Only a few times in a generation does a film come out that is truly unique, not just stylized looking but a truly unique experience. Like the film or not, You, The Living is just that sort of film and it gets points for that. being so unique doesn’t always mean that watching such a film is a good film worth watching over and over again.
This film is built of 50 short tableaux which are connected in theme or in emotion but often come off as non-sequiturs. These brief scenes are dismal, sometimes repetitive, mildly humorous, and sometimes gut bustlingly hilarious. A bar tender in one scene yells for last call and then says that tomorrow’s another day, and that line gets to what feels like the heart of the film. It questions the meaning of life and it reminds us that as bad as one day is there’s always another on the way. Sounds a bit sad huh? Well, it is sad but along with the sadness there’s a glimmer of hope, hidden within a random song, or a brief moment of passing happiness.
This film, and its individual tales, are extremely precisely shot and assembled with every set piece and every extra hitting a mark that enhances the emotional statement being made by the scene and by the movie overall. The fact that every set, even the exteriors, is built to the specifications of the director isn’t shocking considering the precision execution of the film. The camera barely moves allowing the characters to register any movement required for the film. Often the film comes off like a series of snapshots.
Without just laying out the actions of each tableaux the film is surreal, beautiful, perfectly acted, and directed in a way that no one else is working today. Sure by the end of the film it can start to feel repetitive and that’s purposeful. Everyday can feel repetitive for some of the living and that’s one of the points of the film. But, just when things do get repetitive the film hits it’s surreal plateau and it’s over. I saw this film at a festival and came out of the theater thinking: “now this is what a film festival experience should be like”. It’s truly something you aren’t likely to see again for a very long time, it’s a truly unique film in virtually every way. There’s no real beginning middle and end, that’s not what You, The Living is about. This film isn’t so much about telling a story as it is sharing an emotion, sharing a level of despair about how it is to just exist within this world invisibly and it succeeds at this near perfectly.
Anyone that calls themselves a true film fan is doing themselves a disservice by not seeing this film. It’s so different it might not be for everyone but it’s like trying a unique and exotic food, you have to try it at least once.