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United Kingdom 1998
Directed by
Michael Winterbottom
87 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

I Want You

Set in a crumbling seaside resort somewhere on the Southern coast of  England it tells a story of mad love as seen through the eyes of a fourteen year-old Yugoslavian refugee boy, Honda, who has not spoken since he found the body of his mother who committed suicide and who lives with his promiscuous, sister, Smokey (Labina Mitevska who was a carry over from the director’s Welcome To Sarajevo, 1997). Honda has a crush on 23-year-old hairdresser, Helen (Rachel Weisz) who has problems of her own, notably her former boyfriend, the 33-year-old Martin (Alessandro Nivola) who has been released after serving eight years for the accidental murder of her father after he busts them in bed together when she was only 14..

I Want You takes its title from the rather bitter song of the same name by Elvis Costello and which Winterbottom uses to underscore Martin’s sexual aggression to which Helen compulsively and somewhat perversely responds. It is, needless to say a dark film and, as is so often the case with Winterbottom, as much an exercise in style as a performance-driven drama, but equally typically of Winterbottom, it is skilfully realized with impressive photography by Polish cinematographer Slawomir Idziak. Nevertheless the hybrid of English drabness and nouveau noir slickness tends to checkmateitself (for example, the improbably gorgeous Weisz appears to have an indoor swimming pool which from a realist point of view seems unlikely yet from a pulp fiction point of view is under-utilized particularly in the climactic ending) meaning that the drama fails to find its full potency (also the young teen’s arsenal of surveillance equipment stretches credulity).

FYI: In the latter part of the film Smokey sings a song whose title Winterbottom would use for his 2010 film The Killer Inside Me which also dealt with the nexus between sex and death.

DVD Extras: None

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment

 

 

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