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You The Living Review

Author: Daniel Crichton-Rouse
Monday, 16 June 2008

Roy Andersson / Sweden / Potential Films

You The Living and My Winnipeg (see below) are two very unique films, both as far removed from the Hollywood formula as man is different to woman.

You The Living, from Swedish director Roy Andersson (2000’s Songs From the Second Floor), is a film made up of a series of melancholic vignettes, each involving ordinary, everyday characters in peculiar situations. Andersson’s meticulous setup of each scene is immense, his careful (and extensive) use of mise en scène and shot positioning make it evident he has a photographer’s eye for detail. The film looks amazing. There’s a scene where a man, dressed completely in beige tones, in a hallway of beige tones, stands at a doorway with a bunch of flowers, wrapped in beige paper. But the flowers are bright orange. Genius. The scene left me in awe.

The narrative styles throughout You The Living also constantly changing - ranging from song, to traditional narration to even direct-to-camera addresses. For example, in one scene a man driving a ute stuck in traffic slowly moves into shot and turns to face the audience as he continues driving. He tells the story of his horrible dream the night before. We cut to the dream; the man is at an elaborate dinner function, although he’s not to dine (apparent due to his attire), instead he tries to remove the table cloth from the table, and in the process destroys the entire dinner set. The next scene finds the man in court, found guilty of the crime of destroying property that wasn’t his. He’s sentenced to death by electric chair. His lawyer bursts into tears, while the convicted man, our narrator, shrugs with a “that’s life”. This is the kind of humour found in You The Living.

We also follow a girl who dreams of marrying a rockstar, the film climaxing with a very surrealist dream involving the wedded couple, in a house, that turns out to be a train. The heavy use of white makeup gives the characters a ghostly exterior, while the film’s drab settings are often offset by bright objects, such as the orange flowers or a glass of whiskey, symbolic of the everyday-ness of the situations. In a time where saturated colours, ringtone music and über-celebrities are an everyday occurrence in films, You The Living is a humble yet striking piece of art.

You The Living is slated for an August/September release. More information from potentialfilms.com .

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