Saturday 22 November 2014

You, the Living (Du Levande) [2007]

Swedish filmmaker Roy Andersson produced something incredibly unique with his ‘Grandeur of Existence’ trilogy. On first glance they might seem Scandinavian cousins of Wes Anderson’s works on account of the dazzling visual style, quirky humour, serio-comic tone and idiosyncratic characters; but the deep undercurrents of melancholia, existential gloom and mordant take on what it means to be alive, truly set them apart. Du Levande, the highly episodic second chapter in the trilogy (sandwiched between Songs from the Second Floor and A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence – released 7 years apart on either side), provided whimsical and darkly hilarious, but essentially tragic, portrayals on quotidian life. The loosely connected vignettes, fabulously played by its ensemble cast, chronicled disparate tableaus – a depressed, obese woman (Elisabeth Helender) lamenting to her placid boyfriend on how no one cares for her; a man slyly stealing the wallet of a gregarious and wealthy man, and buying a nice dress with the money; a lonely young lady (Jessika Lundberg), hopelessly in love with a rock musician, dreaming of their marriage post which they reside in a traveling house; a cynical, misanthropic psychiatrist (Håkan Angser) who prescribes pills as opposed to providing therapy to his patients; a xenophobic white collar man who gets a raw deal while getting a haircut from a Muslim barber; a man (Leif Larsson) who has a nightmare about being executed by the state for having destroyed expensive dinner-set at a party. The characters' miseries, bitterness, crises and failures were accentuated by the misty, radiant cinematography using long takes and static, wide-angle shots, a deliberately jumbled narrative that regularly switched between real and surreal, and an upbeat score.

Director: Roy Andersson
Genre: Black Comedy/Social Satire/Ensemble Film
Language: Swedish
Country: Sweden

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