Socialist Worker

You, The Living: Bleak but tender cinema with a unique style – and a twist

Issue No. 2096

A scene from You, The Living

A scene from You, The Living

You, The Living is a bizarre Swedish film that has had rave reviews from the critics – and with good reason. It's quite unlike anything you're ever likely to have seen.

The film itself consists of a series of sketches involving loosely connected characters. Some are hilarious – others are stark and heartbreaking.

What links them is an extraordinary and utterly unique cinematographic style. The colours of the film are a palette of washed-out blues, greys and greens.

Each shot is perfectly framed by director Roy Andersson, who designed all the painstakingly detailed custom-built sets. Amazingly, every scene was shot in a single take.

This stage is inhabited by a host of grotesque characters that are nevertheless thoroughly human. Most of the time they talk to each other, but occasionally they address the viewer directly.

The highlights of the film are the two dream sequences that take the director's vision of the world and give it a subtle twist, introducing odd little surreal elements that creep up on you.

Andersson has rightly been compared to the playwright Samuel Beckett for his ability to combine the bleakest tragedy with moments of tenderness and mordant humour.

He also shares Beckett's minimalism – no little detail or line of dialogue in this film is out of place.

The film builds to a stunning final scene that speaks directly to the world we live in today.

Anindya Bhattacharyya

You, The Living, directed by Roy Andersson, is on general release

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Tue 8 Apr 2008, 19:57 BST
Issue No. 2096
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