You, the Living (15)
Time Out rating:
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Time Out says
Tue Mar 25 2008Or, you, the living dead. The motley bunch of sad-looking characters that inhabit this series of vaguely-connected episodes of modern Stockholm life that sit somewhere between Kaurismäki, Buñuel and the Far Side cartoons all look as if they died days ago: their skins are white and drooping and their eyes look dead in their sockets. That’s life, though, Swedish director Roy Andersson seems to be saying in this most maudlin of feature-length comedy sketch shows which recalls the gallows humour of his ‘Songs from the Second Floor’ (2000).
To call it deadpan is barely to hint at Andersson’s style, which he mostly applies to the world of commercials (watch them on YouTube, they’re hilarious). But just when you think the only answer to Andersson’s view of the world – alcoholic couples; depressed psychiatrists; a girl searching for a disappeared rock star who shows her a modicum of affection – is to throw yourself under one of Stockholm’s trams, he unleashes a set-piece that has you marvelling at its choreography or wondering at the sheer ridiculousness of life.
Highlights include a man who recalls a dream he had the previous night that saw him sentenced to death for the most silly of crimes and a vast university dinner that Andersson sets up purely so an elderly professor can be called out to answer a phone-call. New Orleans jazz graces the soundtrack courtesy of the miserable characters that play the drums and the tuba; their celebratory tunes conflict wildly with their melancholy lives. Emotionally, the film’s saving grace is that the good guys – a lovelorn girl, a barber taking racist abuse from a customer – get their own back, and at least some of the bad guys – a braying businessman, the racist – get their come-uppance. You won’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Author: Dave Calhoun