So, I’ve been debating with myself for a while about whether or not I should write about this movie. On the one hand, I don’t want to be the stereotypical film student who wears big glasses and flannel shirts (guilty) and talks about foreign films to sound “intelligent” – because I know they exist and I can imagine that they’re especially irksome to people who couldn’t care less about film. On the other, I cannot get this film out of my head, and it would be a disservice to myself, and to anyone who may be inspired to see it based on my humble opinion, not to write something. So before you roll your eyes at the mere thought of reading about a foreign film and close the page, just hear me out.
I’m not sure why foreign films have such a reputation for causing this instant reaction of eye-roll and tune-out, because to be honest, oftentimes they’re really not all that different. Sure, sometimes the stories are bleak or the editing style is unconventional, but should that scare people away from sitting down and taking in what, at its core, may be a really good story? I certainly don’t think so, which leads me to my point – go to the video store (yes, they still exist) and find Swedish film Du Levande (You, The Living), directed by Roy Andersson in 2007*. See? It’s contemporary, so I’m not trying to get you to watch a silent, black and white, out-dated foreign film – it could be worse!
The story is a study of the human condition and how dreams intersect reality, and yes, I realize how pretentious that description sounds. So to put it in more audience-friendly terms, it’s a series of short stories about everyday people going through their everyday lives, which are both strangely hilarious and tragic at the same time. From the woman who complains about how no one understands her to anyone who will listen, to the man who tries to impress company with the “tablecloth” trick, there’s a character for everyone to relate to, even just a little bit. And when you can’t relate, you can laugh at them or feel pain for them. You can even burst out into song! It’s a comedy, drama, and musical all wrapped into one perfect masterpiece. At its core, the film is about finding humor and joy and sadness in everyday situations, something I think everyone could use a little work on.
Still not convinced? I’m bringing in the big guns. The reason I decided to watch You, The Living is because of a scene I saw in one of my classes that I honestly have watched at least 50 times in the past week. Before starting the screening for a different foreign film that I was not a fan of at all, our TA (“Homeboy Tom” as our professor lovingly refers to him) showed us the scene in question, and I’ve been hooked ever since. The scene starts with one of the recurring characters, Anna, talking about a dream she had about marrying a musician, Micke Larsson. Throughout the movie, Anna is totally fan-girling over Micke, something I know for a fact everyone can relate to. Don’t deny it. Then, the audience is taken into the dream as Micke plays one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful guitar solos in all of history. While nothing about the dream is particularly spectacular (except the moving house, that’s pretty rad), I think that’s what makes it so special. Some of the best dreams that I’ve had are about experiencing true bliss, surrounded by people who love me, even if I don’t know who they are. It was so nice, wonderful, fantastic – and so is this film.
Tomorrow is another day,
*Since I originally wrote this post I have purchased You, The Living, so now you don’t even have to find a place to rent it!