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They were looking forward to an ordinary gift, a trip trip to an unknown country. Yet in a remote hotel, the four strangers suddenly realize that this trip is far from being a gift and they are far from being strangers anymore.
One of the pleasures of the annual Cine Europa European film festival here in Manila is the chance to see obscure curiosities like this film from Lithuania. Part ecological film and part love story (maybe), You am I revolves around a man named Baronas (Andrius Bialobzeskis), who designs and builds a tree house in the forest along ecologically sustainable principles. The house even comes with a small generator operated by running water that generates enough power to provide light at night.
Baronas' quiet life in the woods is interrupted when a group of youths arrive at an isolated cabin to celebrate the birthday of Dominyka (Jurga Jutaite). He crashes the party and strikes up a friendship with the young girl, which ends ambiguously.
My pet title for this movie is The Forest has Eyes because its basic set-up resembles that of a Friday the 13th movie, with nubile young people frolicking in the woods while a stranger watches them from the trees. There's even a hint of Deliverance, with the arrival of two country yokels to do some repair work on the cabin. Of course, the film isn't a horror movie, it's actually an ecological fable about the possibility of man living in harmony with nature (I guess). In fact, one of the other characters actually writes a story about an ecological disaster, a deluge that destroys the earth.
One of the main highlights of the film, not surprisingly, its spectacular nature cinematography. The filmmakers succeed in giving us a palpable sense of the natural world. Baronas' house is also particularly inviting, with its elevated location, plastic sheeting for walls and its single electric light (the only way you can get there is to climb, which is why Baronas constantly has a lineman's harness on his belt)..
You am I takes its title from a line uttered by a forest spirit (I guess) who occasionally appears to Baronas to utter profundities (When Baronas lies in an empty grave, the spirit appears to tell him, "Death is the ultimate cure".) What does it all mean? I'm not entirely sure, but it's watchable enough over its brief length. And if you need some extra incentive to watch this film when you get the chance, there's a hot sex scene early in the film. It's the only one though, as none of the teenagers who come to the cabin take off their clothes, or if they do, the director doesn't let us see anything.
If I sound kind of flip and irreverent about this film, I apologize. Its just that You am I is the kind of film guaranteed to divide audiences between those who like it (like me) even if they can't quite articulate why, and those who think it's a pretentious (and dull) piece of crap. Both reactions are valid, I guess, depending on your frame of mind. But if you can get into it, its worth giving You am I a chance.
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