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You I Love

You I Love's go-go protagonist (Evgeny Koryakovsky) seems to be living the ultimate Playboy lifestyle in decadent post-communist Russia. He's got it all: a mammoth apartment as big and lushly appointed as a museum, a hotshot job in advertising, and a beautiful, loving, and famous anchorwoman girlfriend. There's only one problem: Koryakovsky also enjoys having sex with men, which throws his upscale life in disarray when he hits a naïve man-child (Damir Badmaev) with his car, takes him home, and begins a torrid physical affair. Badmaev's girlfriend (Lyubov Tolkalina) wanders in on the two and is predictably horrified, though her horror doesn't prevent her from reluctantly pursuing a strange, indefinable role as the third wheel in a peculiarly modern romantic triangle.

Tolkalina and Badmaev struggle to hold onto the object of their affection in spite of his black moods and emotional cruelty, but Koryakovsky seems as much a cipher to himself as he does to the audience. You I Love echoes Chuck & Buck in its tragicomic depiction of an ostensibly straight yuppie coping uneasily with a dopey naïf's sexual attraction to him, but where Chuck & Buck's Mike White was hypnotically creepy, Badmaev never emerges as anything more than an irritating bundle of primal impulses. Part of the problem stems from the fact that Badmaev and Koryakovsky's relationship seems to go from hot, sweaty physical attraction to soul-consuming passion without hitting any intermediary stages.

Just about the only aspect of the film that resonates emotionally is Tolkalina's confusion and sadness as she watches the man she loves careen through an increasingly out-of-control life, selfishly chasing thrills and sensations that no longer involve her. Tolkalina's impressive performance coaxes some painful emotional truths out of a trite, superficial story, and she's assisted by a brisk, kinetic visual style that absorbs and amplifies the sensory overload and tawdry glamour of late-period capitalism. Koryakovsky's hated profession plays a part in his existential crisis, but the filmmakers nevertheless borrow extensively from the advertising industry's bottomless bag o' visual tricks. The filmmakers have a keen eye for striking compositions, but unlike most advertising, movies have to amount to more than just a succession of vivid images.

Filed Under: Film

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