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A truly suspenseful and frighteningly claustrophobic indie
The best way to see "You Belong to Me," Sam Zalutsky's only full-length feature to date (a shame) is to go into it completely blind, expecting just another lo-fi gay indie drama. You will then be blown entirely on your ass, when the plot suddenly takes a hard left about halfway into it. But I'll try to talk around that...
It starts out as a typically gritty New York low-budget picture...NY actors, NY locations. It captures the feel, look, and vibe of Brooklyn quite well. Jeffrey (Daniel Sauli) is a gay architect who has fallen hard for a one night stand named Rene (Julian Lucas) who doesn't give him the time of day. He's tired of living with his best friend Niki (Heather Simms) and, on an impulse crossed with vague stalking tendencies, rents out an apartment in Rene's building.
He quickly becomes the object of landlady Gladys' slightly overbearing attentions. And this is a good place to give Patti D'Arbanville, the consummate New York actress, her just deserved props. D'Arbanville has been around a LONG time, and she usually winds up playing a part that is a "type" --- usually The Slut, The Hard-Edged Girl, The Bitchy Wife. In YBTM she's older, and still plays a type, but the part is so well-written and well-rounded, that D'Arbanville really makes it her own with a palette of emotions that range from vulnerable to pathetic to abjectly terrifying.
Mr. Sauli brings a nicely laconic, coolly mysterious presence to Jeffrey as well. His character starts out as a cypher and then gradually becomes very immediate and real.
I think the intimate tone and style of this film makes it so good. It's an ideal match for the material and Zalutsky has a very finely tuned sense of what works and what doesn't. "You Belong to Me" is one of those films that is so engaging, you almost don't want it to end, and at about 80 minutes, it zips by. A good ride, if not to everyone's tastes.
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