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You, The Living

Sweden 2008
Directed by
Roy Andersson
Rated M

Reviewed by
Andrew Lee
3.5 stars

You, The Living

Synopsis: A collection of about 50 short vignettes showing the weird and the wonderful in the banality of life.

Apparently Roy Andersson has given a name to the style of his film; he calls it “Trivialism”. The weird and surreal in the mundane would be a longer way to describe it. You, The Living follows a set of static tableaux where people play out their joys and their sorrows in a remarkably touching and often belly-laugh inducing fashion. There’s a multitude of characters, a lovelorn young girl waiting for a rock star to call her back, a drunken woman who abuses her boyfriend and constantly tells him to get lost, only to also mention she might be over to see him a bit later, a psychiatrist who seems condemned to walk a lonely road, etc., etc.

The film drifts in and out of the stories of these characters, as well as a multitude of others, painting a portrait of lives lived in a mixture of fleeting happiness and grief. There are frequent pauses as characters turn to the camera to narrate their dreams, their opinions and the lives they have lived. There’s a bizarre dream sequence involving a parlour trick gone awry that ends up in court, and a funny but depressing monologue from the psychiatrist on the futility of trying to help people who are essentially mean, cruel and selfish.

You, The Living has no story to speak of, but in its gentle observations it tells a great tale about the ways that people manage to live their lives in the face of a sometimes oppressive world. And it does it with such humour and warmth that despite such a bleak outlook it somehow manages to make you feel good about life.




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