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Reviews Database > DVD REVIEWS (Y) > YOU THE LIVING (2007)
Published by David Carter on 2010/5/20 (2016 reads)

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Released by Palisades Tartan
Running Time: 90 minutes
Rating: NR
Color format: Color
Audio/Subtitles: Swedish Dolby 5.1, Dolby 2.0 and DTS 5.1 / English Subtitles
Region Code: 1, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.66:1
16:9 Enhanced: Yes
Special Features: Director Commentary; “Sample of Sets” Featurette; Preview on a Documentary on Studio 24 and the making of “You The Living”; Excerpts From Director’s Earlier Films; “Roy Andersson in New York, Sept. 2009” Featurette.
Trailer Online: Yes

Open in new windowWell, this reviewer has seen hundreds of films in his lifetime; some were good; even excellent; but some were also very very bad. Swedish black comedy and Cannes favorite YOU THE LIVING is a little bit of both. Written and directed by Roy Andersson it tells the story of a bunch of unhappy people who, via many drab but sometimes giggly sketches, show how miserable they all are. From the overweight and self-absorbed woman who digs whining and drinking, to the chopped-off haired businessman who threatens his over-blasé barber with a lawsuit, YOU THE LIVING is definitely an acquired taste. It proudly moves into different areas, and the results are uneven.

Indeed, at first glance, YOU THE LIVING seems like the perfect antidote to insomnia with its jumble of uninspiring dialogue—subtitled in English—and fruitless situations. It takes a while before getting used to them as the film marches to the beat of its own drum. But once you do, YOU THE LIVING does tend to amuse. Attribute this to Andersson’s acute grasp of a life and love theme in general. Although seeming unrelated at first, every vignettes connect adroitly to one another. Sometimes funny sometimes sad—and sometimes even pathetic—they each tell a story behind the story. Figuring them out is another matter, however. YOU THE LIVING isn’t your typical everything-has-to-be-spelled-out-for-you exercise. Some may even miss the humor in it completely. But if you’re patient long enough (and willing to try something new), you’ll find that the answers often lie in the film absurdity and unique flavor.

Open in new windowThe use of the camera is plain, to the point. No evident tracking shots or anything on that level; just simple yet effective camera movements (usually from afar in a greenish tint), adorn with one particularly well done optical FX consisting of a train-like moving apartment. This segment in fact looks to be the only happy moment caught on film; a dream sequence involving newlyweds and neighborly chant and cheers coming from an open window. A moment that is both quite endearing and funny. Other than that, the film relies totally on the misery loves company shtick behind its obvious no-budget front.

Open in new windowPerformance-wise, YOU THE LIVING is filled with unknowns with limited acting abilities. They hold up their end of the bargain nicely but without big fanfare. The crisscrossing plots are the real stars. Though Elisabeth Helander who plays the whiny plump drinker is memorable enough. Her big lamentation scene at the start of the movie sets exactly the tone of what’s ahead for this unique but obscure little entry from Stockholm.

Beyond the print crisp quality of picture and sound, the DVD boasts a few subtitled supplements, starting with an insightful director’s commentary. Roy Andersson goes through YOU THE LIVING with a fine-tooth comb, dissecting his film dense story lines. "Roy Andersson in New York, Sept. 2009" is a fine - if a bit redundant - 20 minute discussion with Andersson going at it with the film’s true meaning and technicalities. Included in the extras is a fun documentary about the director and the studio 24, where the flick was shot, that includes the “trompe l’œil” trick of deceiving the viewers with built sets. The next featurette is an overview of those same elaborate sets but tuned in to a beautiful soundtrack musical piece. Then an interesting 15 minute collection of excerpts from the director’s earlier work, plus a series of foreign film trailers, round up the special features.
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