You I Love

You I Love is certainly the strangest Russian film in recent memory. It's bizarre love triangle is reminiscent of Gloomy Sunday, a recent German film with triangle where the three people were generally okay with the arrangement. Unlike the latter, You I Love is a romantic comedy, except it never seems to get the comedy part right. It always feels like it is on the verge of doing something funny, then backs off before it can happen. The film is never boring, but only because directors Olga Stolpovskaja (who wrote the screenplay) and Dmitry Troitsky are busy throwing things at the screen to see if they will stick and gong all over the place in terms of filming and tone.

Vera (Lyubov Tolkalina) is a newscaster who meets Timofei (Evgeny Koryakovsky). The two begin dating and seem perfect for each other - Vera tells him that he is the only one that understands her extreme love for food. In the most interesting scene of the film, Timofei and Vera are tumbling around in bed knocking a bunch of green apples onto the floor. There is a sense of life and joy in these few seconds missing from most of the rest of the film. Nobody gets the sense that Vera and Timofei have a deep relationship aside from the quick montage. Then Timofei meets Uloomji (Damir Badmaev), an itinerant worker from a minority group. The attraction is instant, and the two begin an affair. Vera walks in on them and is understandably angry. She voices her opposition, but Timofei allows the relationship to continue, and Vera never really objects.

It is this indecisiveness that causes You I Love to fail to have a strong message. Vera occupies this strange middle ground. Meanwhile, the character of Uloomji is portrayed as moronic, so it's never clear if he understands the difference between gay and straight. He simply likes Timofei. As the three move into an uncomfortable groove, Uloomji's family makes an appearance. They are completely opposed to his relationship, and this causes some histrionics that were probably meant to be funny, but again don't quite come off as such. The film eventually devolves into slapstick, but to the credit of Stolpovskaja and Troitsky, it is never boring.

The co-directors also comment on the rising tide of capitalism in Russia. Russia is becoming more Westernized, and sexual freedom and the power of the consumer are rising. Vera and Timofei are both members of this new class of 'modern' people. Again, this is a side of Russia not usually seen in movies. Troitsky and Stolpovskaja also throw in some fancy camera and editing tricks for no apparent reason. It does lend a small air of pretentious credibility to You I Love, but like everything else the directors do, doesn't seem to mean much.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 26 minutes, Russian with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains language, and some nudity and sensuality, and easy R.

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