film 4 of 5

You, the Living

Film Review by Dean Duncan May 26, 2015

Mr. Andersson sure puts the camera in the right place. There are some molasses paced Tati-like gags that work pretty well, in which Andersson’s obsessive pictoral compositions utilize a human subject in some bright way. Quirk and perceptiveness actually get together on a couple of occasions, and maybe even generate a little warm feeling. Same with the beginning, in which a grumpy lady sings a grumpy song to a very cheerful tune, and the end, where the melancholy, love-struck youth recounts the dream in which her beloved played a couple of choruses of live guitar. Oh, and the haircut/hair sabotage/meeting and stroke sequence, is, as that description suggests, almost ridiculously eccentric/elaborate/overdetermined, and yet it accomplishes a stir of something true and real. Those are quite a few good things, and they’re deserving of commendation.

Finally, though, You, the Living seems to me to be way more mannered than it is meaningful. This is just preference, and not evidence of anything in particular. But I find Jarmusch to be funkier, and that Kaurismaki did it first, for way more good reason, and with way deeper, dearer result.