The Film (5/5)
Never judge a book by it's cover. That's what the age old saying is, right? It's pretty good advice, and for the most part is true. However, when I ripped open the envelope that contained the You, The Living DVD, and saw the quote from Uncut magazine stating that it was like “Monty Python meets Ingmar Bergman” I immediately judged it. I knew if that quote was even half accurate I would love this movie. I was not wrong. Although, I will say that I found the film less like a Bergman film, and more like the films of Jacques Tati.
You, the Living is in no way a conventional film. Sure you have seen films like it before, but it does it's own thing and does it well. A fair comparison would be if you took Richard Linklater's Slacker, Monty Python's Meaning of Life, and blend it together with a dash of melancholy ambiance. The film takes place in Sweden, it's a drab film that blends together roughly 50 comic vignettes, involving different characters. Some of these characters return throughout the film, and appear in other characters segments, however, there is no straight narrative to speak off.
What you basically see is a day in the life of these people, and there situations reflect the world around us. You, the Living is basically a humorous tone poem about the human condition. There is a bit at the beginning where an overweight woman laments over her unhappiness, and wants to leave her boyfriend, her dog, and escape on a motorcycle. This is until she hears that there will be a veal roast for dinner, and then she changes her tune. There's a situation where a man in front of his family attempts the pull the table cloth out from under the dishes trick, and of course, fails miserable. He then fantasizes about his trial, and about being executed in the electric chair for destroying nearly 200 year old china.
You, the Living is hard movie to synopsize. It is definitely a comedy, but you won't find yourself rolling on the floor laughing. Most of the humor is situational. The film was shot on carefully constructed sets over a period of roughly 3 years, and it shows. The camera is static for the most part, but the direction has a precision and set design that is not unlike a Stanley Kubrick film. The movie is not colorful, and could be considered drab for the most part, however, the minimal use of color in the film is outstanding such as one of the opening scene with a red shadow moving around the trunk of a tree.
Simply, put You, the Living is a great melancholy absurdist comedy, and needs to be seen. This is my first experience with a Roy Andersson film, and I have been made a fan. I will now be seeking the rest of his filmography, and am excited to explore it. Unfortunately, It looks like I'll be importing them...
Tartan has presented there release of You, the Living with a crisp 1:66:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The transfer is excellent for the most part, although a bit soft in some areas. This, however, has less to do with the transfer, and more to do with the film itself. There is also a healthy amount of grain visible in some scenes, but it is not distracting, and actually adds to the viewing experience.
Tartan has included 3 audio options for You, the Living. These include a DTS 5.1 track, a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, and Dolby Digital 2.0 all of them are in Swedish with optional English subtitles. The sound is quite clear, the dialogue and music can be heard perfectly throughout the film. There is no noticeable audio distortion, or grain on the track.
Tartan has put together a pretty sweet package together for this DVD release. It kicks off with a commentary by director Roy Andersson. This is followed by a short featurette called “A Sample of Sets,” and a piece on Andersson's personal film studio, Studio 24, and the making of You, the Living. Finally, it includes an exclusive featurette for this DVD release called “Roy Andersson in New York Sept. 2009.” All in all a great package for a great piece of cinema.
You the Living is the first great film I have seen in 2010, and it starts the year off with a bang. I would recommend this to fans of Monty Python, Ingmar Bergman, Jacques Tati, and great film in general. The movie is funny, and melancholy. It is impeccably directed, and wonderfully acted, by a cast of people who look like real people off the street. The transfer and audio are excellent, and the extras are very informative and interesting. You, the Living is everything great cinema should be.