Tuesday, 14 March 2017

You, The Living
Dir: Roy Andersson
Roy Andersson's follow up to his 2000 masterpiece Songs from the Second Floor is an altogether more celebratory piece that is ever so slightly less dark and a little bit more fun. Much like the first film, You, the Living's theme is based on literature, in this instance an old Norse proverb 'Man is man's delight' from the Poetic Edda poem Hávamál but the film's title comes from a stanza in Goethe's Roman Elegies; "Be pleased then, you, the living, in your delightfully warmed bed, before Lethe's ice-cold wave will lick your escaping foot". You, the living is a celebration of life, the wondrous normality, the everyday bizarre and an exploration on the grandeur of existence. Once again, the film contains a series of vignettes, fifty to be precise, and once more each short is beautifully composed and uniquely special. You, the Living is far more of a tragicomedy than a dark comedy, a little more surreal in places and much warmer. There is a continuous high level of humour that runs through the film, even in the fairly serious shorts but I wouldn't go as far to say this was the 'comedy' of Andersson's Living Trilogy. Think Aki Kaurismäki directing a Monty Python film under the influence of an early Fellini and you've something close to Andersson's second masterpiece. It has a glorious warmth about it, a unique charm and it would be wrong and impossible to compare it to anything else in all honesty. It may well be my favorite of the Trilogy (between Songs from the Second Floor 2000 and A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence 2014) and once again I'm stunned that once again it wasn't well received. Andersson had huge financial issues in making the film and I'm sure the seven year gap was never intentional between films. One of the many downfalls of being a visionist I imagine, it only makes sense that the Swedish Film Institute refused to fund it (following the high praise the first film soon gathered abroad) once you know that the then chairman gave funding instead to his father-in-law, in an open act of nepotism. It's rare that the second film of a trilogy is as good as the first, and even rarer that the third be just as good but that is the case here, it is a trilogy of masterpieces.

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