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One of the best movies I have seen this year. Michael Winterbottom proves to be a truly versatile director with this film about love, loneliness, sorrow and obsession in an English coastal town. The use of Elvis Costello's song "I want you" as a theme throughout the film is superb. It leaves you with a strange and yearning sensation that will last for days. The cinematography is so very good, thanks to Kieslowskis photographer Zlavomir Idziak who also filmed "Gattaca" creating a similar visual style. Wonderful yellow, green and blue renders a supernatural, poetic feel to the characters as well as the town. You watch with the feeling that anything can happen, and it does.
The casting of this movie is almost perfect. Rachel Weisz is equally true as the both innocent and dangerous Helen as she was in "The Mummy" playing a librarian with vigour, looks and brains. I predict hers to be a great career. Make way, Kate Winslet and Helena Bonham-Carter! Alessandro Nivola as Martin is just as persuasive. He is scary, touching, pathetic and assertive all at the same time, consumed by an obsession with Helen fuelled by eight years in jail.
The only thing that bothers me about this movie is the way it abandons the mute boy and his sister's story to concentrate on Helen and Martin. However, this is a minor detail in a movie that often bears visual reminders of Derek Jarman at his very best. The very self-conscious references to "Romeo is bleeding" and "Red rock west" will probably ensure a similar cult-following before long.
I agree with most of the other reviewers comments, but the viewer should know that this is not mainstream stuff, it's alternative, sort of like "High Art". If you like standard slick Hollywood stuff, this won't be your bag. Scenes change quickly, and at other times dawdle over a mood. The sex is alternative too, no standard love here. The acting is adequate, and the cinamatography is rural grundge UK, nothing pretty, not one nice English garden anywhere, mostly mud and weeds. If you've got broad tastes, give it a try. -Bob
I really liked this movie. I can't quite figure out why, however. It's not
quite the psychological thrill that it was perhaps intended to be (we never
really get into the head of Martin, a man obsessed with his old love, which
most people think is what the film is supposed to be about), and the
relationship between Helen and Honda never really becomes a focal point,
like City of Lost Children, it gains a lot of points by simply being a
unique viewing experience.
The relationship that Honda has with Smokey (his sister) and Helen are realistic and almost heart warming. It would have been a more enjoyable movie if it simply focused on the trio, but the movie is very intelligent and thought provoking as it is.
This movie, first of all, is not for amateur moviefans. The only people who will probably enjoy this movie are the ones who have seen a great many and wide range of films. It is for the open minded and analytical. Why? Because, this movie is virtually left blank for the audience to fill in. The acting is superb, Rachel Weisz and Alessandro Nivola are very talented, and are justly fit for the role. About 70% of the dialogue was improvised, so that should tell you something. Although there are sometimes too many holes in the plot and not enough information given, the movie, i believe, is pulled off wonderfully. It is a very open movie, and there are no reassurances. The audience will probably find themselves playing psychologist to the deep, rich characters that develop as the short movie progresses. The characters and the whole openness of the movie is what appealed to me. I Want You is very underrated, and people should give this movie a second try. Yeah, there is some explicit sex and voyeurism going on, but that is one of the movie's great central themes. The focus is very apparent from the beginning, and the beautiful thing that sets it off is mood. The color tones used, in mellow bluish and yellowish color, the melancholy and often creepy music... and the locale add to it. The movie is almost like The Virgin Suicides in mood, except much, much darker, with a darker, creepier story as well. It seems throughout the entire movie that the characters are sort of lost in this sort of moody limbo that Michael Winterbottom creates... and you get lost as well.
Director Michael Winterbottom doesn't make conventional British films.
His work has the austere demeanour and unrestrictive sense of
experimentation that we normally associate with the European aesthetic
of filmmakers like Herzog, Kieslowski, Bergman, et al. This ideology is
further illustrated by the film in question, with the director
employing the esteemed cinematographer of Kieslowski's A Short Film
About Killing (1987), Slavomir Idziak, to create the dark, noir-like
underworld of disintegrating coastal beach huts and seedy promenades
where these mysterious characters come to congregate. It's one of those
films that puts atmosphere before everything else; a film in which the
long pauses between dialog and the odd sideways glance of a character
says more than an explanatory line of dialog ever could. If you have a
problem with films of this nature - the kind that leaves questions and
images lingering in the viewer's mind for weeks to follow - then this
probably won't be the film for you.
The plot is, on first glance, a simple one; relying on a series of emotional triggers whilst also playing with the usual cinematic chronology to go backwards and forwards into an event from the past. However, as we further explore the films sub-textual ideologies and the shadowy morals of the central quartet of characters, we discover hidden depths that have more to do with perception, memory and perspective. Winterbottom sets up an idea that each character sees a particular event in a certain way, so that we end up with multiple viewpoints all jostling for our attention. The resulting plot becomes much more of a puzzle, as we are further immersed within the shocking incident that bookends the narrative. Added to this, we are also given a narrator who cannot be trusted, which in turn leads us into a series of twists which expose the characters true intentions. The ultimate pay off comes right out of nowhere and knocks us off our feet, as the director subverts everything that we've previously seen and turns it into an almost epiphany. It's one of the most satisfying pay offs to a crime thriller that I've seen in some time.
The photography of Idziak takes us into further labyrinthine realms that perfectly complement the seedy atmosphere and perpetual drive of lust and obsession, with the entire film relying on various colour filters that not only highlight the mood, but also act as a visual anchor to the characters and the emotional context of the moment. The music too is detailed and significant, with Winterbottom using a series of musical motifs to expressionistically represent the emotional underlining of the characters. In a film that relies on sound as such an integral component of the script this is expertly handled. The inclusion of Elvis Costello's eponymous anthem from which the film takes its title is totally relevant, and certainly adds a much-needed sense of abstract, fragmented reality to the self-contained world of the plot. The central performances only help to give the film an even greater sense of added depth, with the two youngsters Luka Petrusic and Lubina Mitevska complementing the more seasoned members of the cast perfectly. In the lead role of Helen, Rachel Weisz exudes a provocative, sexual energy, whilst Alesandro Nivola is a revelation as the broken-down Martin.
I Want You (1998) is, for me, one of the most striking and evocative cinematic works of the last decade. An example of British cinema pushed beyond the realms of kitchen-sink and ably demonstrating a sense of visual imagination rare for this kind of genre. This is an exception film for those who enjoy their thrillers with a dark underlining and a distinctly multi-dimensional edge.
This was an interesting film with some very quirky characters.
Honda (Luka Petrusic) is a tall, thin 14-year-old boy who usually went everywhere at kind of a gallop, and is a mute. He lives in a house on the beach with his sister named Smokey(Labina Mitevska)--he also has a little hideaway in an old boat that has washed up on the beach.
Honda has a rather strange hobby of listening constantly to other people's conversations and other activities, and recording them.
Honda can even record people in a car not too distant from where he is, and he even has mobile equipment.
One day Honda runs into a beautiful young woman named Helen(Rachel Weisz), quite literally. After making her acquaintance, Honda and her become friends.
A young man named Martin,(Alessandro Nivola)out of prison and on parole, with whom Helen was previously involved, is stalking her.
Smokey, a sultry nightclub singer, who has a very unusual hairstyle, upon meeting Martin, becomes very interested in him.
All four of these people have some psychological issues. Helen - has some obvious sexual problems Martin- is a stalker Smokey- is going to bed with every man she encounters. And Honda with his muteness,eavesdropping and obsession with Helen is also in need of Dr. Freud.
We discover as the film progresses, why Honda is mute and what transpired between Martin and Helen in the past.
How this all concludes was quite surprising and unexpected to me.
'I Want You' is unique, transcending British cinema in one easy leap. What
the film offers that makes it special is a portrait of obsessive desire and
compulsion framed quite brazenly in an English coastal town.
Cinematographer Slawomir Idziak (of Three Colours Red/White and Blue fame)
commits to celluloid a most distinct and unfamiliar slice of life in a
claustrophobic town, complimented superbly with Winterbottom's direction.
The cast although largely unknown (with the exception of Weisz and Nirvola) effortlessly demand attention and understanding and the development of these characters is really what the film is all about.
'I Want You' consciously refers back to cult films like 'Red Rock West' and 'Romeo is Bleeding' and here it seems Micheal Winterbottom may just have produced an English answer.
It is about a boy, who doesn't speak but falls in love with an older
girl. As it turns out, her father was murdered. Now her former
boyfriend, who is released on parole, stalks her, but nevertheless
rescues her from being raped. Fair enough. She is torn between him, the
boy and some others, who try to have sex with her.
It is a quite strange but due to that fancy story. The film offers more than just the story, it also uses many different ways to talk to its audience. Listen carefully to the song texts. They might not be the best, but add a sometimes funny, sometimes bitter sphere. This bitterness is more than just a stylistic device, it is one of the central themes, as it deals with guilt and the desire of being loved.
See it, but be aware that it is a relatively cheap production, so don't await to much in this term.
Finally some movie with an ambition. After a long period of action packed
trash, somebody though of bringing us some food for soul.
I must admit I am impressed. The atmosphere of I WANT YOU, the cinematography and feeling of dirtyness of human behaviours overcame me.
I believe that I WANT YOU somehow reminds of Kieslowki's SHORT FILM ABOUT LOVE but gets deeper into the area of human senses and perception of reality.
A must see for everyone who likes movies with soul.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Set against the unforgiving ocean and the flat, soggy marshes of the
coast of southern England, the scene will evoke delightful nostalgia in
anyone who's spent time as a youth in any of these places.
Right under the surface of this apparently mundane coastal community lies passion, obsession and terrible misfortune. Around the edge is inequity and injustice.
Winterbottom achieves a highly erotic mood and the film is punctuated with frank and realistic sexuality which on it's own may be labeled pornographic (especially in the MPAA circuits). The director effectively addresses the dilemmas of human sexuality and hammers home the cruelty of the human condition.
All of the acting is great and the cinematography accurately delivers the location to your imagination. Rachel Weisz can be seen here in her element. Younger and somewhat thicker set than she has become, she seethes with sexuality whilst remaining demure. She is the the enigma of this film and if you've ever known a young woman to whom all men are hopelessly, somewhat inexplicably attracted, you'll see her in Weisz's Helen.
I recommend this film to anyone who likes intelligent erotica and tragedy. Also anyone who's grown up around rural coastal Britain (or wants insight into it) will love this.
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