I Want You (1998) Poster

(I) (1998)

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A haunting and disturbing movie.
madde-45 August 1999
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.
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Bob73 July 2000
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
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A very experimental, open-ended, and unique movie
sydneyk27 August 2001
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.
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parqer28 January 2001
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, but 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.
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Underrated trawl through the realms of obsession and deceit
Graham Greene20 March 2008
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.
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Four characters in need of a good psychiatrist
MagicStarfire14 January 2007
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.

8 stars
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Continental England
Dr Gonzo11 January 1999
'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.
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Are you my prince, she asked
georggeckert8 May 2008
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.
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First good movie I have seen in 1999
q3c27 March 1999
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.
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Haunting and beautiful, truly erotic, tragic.
fracturedog2 May 2007
Warning: 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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A waste of time
George Parker5 October 2001
"I Want You" is a klunker flick out of the UK disguised as dark drama which focuses on a hairdresser (Weiz) who is stalked by an excon (Nivola). Shot as a character study, which, given its shallow plot, means a whole lot of tedious camera voyeurism pouring over a core cast of four for which we're given little reason to care. Capped with an ambiguous ending and flawed with plot-holes, the flick is very forgettable, unsatisfying, and low in entertainment value. Recommended for terminally bored mature audiences only.
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yespat23 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
After this movie was over I found myself asking what it was all about. Too many unanswered questions. Too many false leads and ultimately an unsatisfying experience.

Everything looked good, all the actors were great, the scenes looked real.

What was the deal with the blonde? Why did she keep bringing so many guys back to her home? Why did the story set up Rachel Weiss as being such a prude with her dj boyfriend and then later show her as so much not like that in other settings? What was the deal with Rachel Weiss's character in the end? The whole thing just left me feeling perplexed and angry that I wasted 2 hours of my life on it.

Given all these negatives, I gave it a "high" rating of 5 because it did look good and all the actors performed well. Had I just rated the story, I probably would have given it a 2.
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An excellent study into desire
Kaya Ozkaracalar27 July 2001
The story, cinematography, music score, acting is excellent. Also, listen attentively for the last replic to be heard as the end credits begin to roll: it is NOT simply a re-playing of one of the familiar recordings the mute boy made, but includes a significant re-edit, which he has apparently made, which drives home the whole point of the movie very forcefully.
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schiele_21 August 2000
When I went to see this film I have never expected it to be anything special. Even when I got out i couldn't realize at first what a marvelous film I have seen. I must say I want you was far above my expectations and I still believe that I won't see a movie like this one for quite some time. Rachel Weisz and Alessandro Nivola were superb in their roles and the dialogs between them were very little but extremely convincing and touching. The cinematography was excellent and the atmosphere it created was very haunting and in accordance with the loneliness and desperation of the main characters. This film is not for shallow or clear cut people since the only reaction they (will )give would be something like :'what the hell is this film about?'. To that I must say I want you is not a film to understand and analyze but to feel and admire.

I fell in love with both Rachel Weisz and Alessandro Nivola and I wish them the best. I want you is along with The talented Mr. Ripley the best film I have seen in my life. A 6 out of 5.
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Considering the running time, nudity & subject-incrediby boring.
Tom DeFelice21 January 2002
The topics touched on in this film include suicide, patricide, pedophilia, sexual obsession and murder. With a running time of just 87 min. and a large dose of nudity, it is amazing just how boring this film is. We are to believe that it is a cross between a 1950s English kitchen sink drama and an erotic thriller. Even though there are large gaps revealed to us in the characters' motivation, there is enough shown as the make them as one dimensional as a paper cut-out. Rachel Weisz's two nude scenes might be considered courageous in another film; but with so much gratuitous nudity preceding it, it loses it's impact. If you want to see Rachel Weisz naked and have a fast forward button, then rent this film. Otherwise stay away. It is incredibly pretentious and boring.
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so what movie did you see?
chrissage10 March 2004
i read all the imdb comments on this movie and looked forward to watching it, enjoying a cerebral flick as much, if not more than the next man. but what a disappointment... the mute 'hero' anywhere else would be just a perverted voyeur. his sister is talented but a tramp. the hairdresser is a prick-tease and her ex-boyfriend is a loser. but who cares? there is nothing here to endear the viewer to anybody. the flesh on display was quite prolific, but gratuitous and not particularly attractive either. i found myself wondering what Rachel Weisz was doing in this film, but the over-riding question was why i had continued watching till the end.
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A Suffocating Erotic Story of Love, Obsession and Crime
Claudio Carvalho8 August 2004
In a small coast town in England, the hairdresser Helen (Rachel Weisz) is the passion of the ex-convicted now on probation Martin (Alessandro Nivola). They were lovers in the past before Martin be sent to prison. Although having a restrain order against Martin, he decides to visit Helen and regain her lover. Meanwhile, the dumb teenager Honda (Luka Petrusic), who lives with his nymphomaniac sister, the singer Smokey (Labina Mitevska), develops a platonic love for Helen, spoiling her relationship with her boyfriend. Dark secrets are revealed in the end of this weird story.

This suffocating erotic story of love, obsession and crime is not recommended for any audience. It has many positive points, such as the performance of the whole cast, highlighting Luka Petrusic in the role of a mute boy, the beauty of Rachel Weisz, the heavy atmosphere created by Michael Winterbottom and the end of the story with no concessions. The characters are slowly disclosed and in the end they are well developed. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): 'Desejo Você' ('Want You')
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Realistic psycho-mystery with the best music score
tgoszczynski29 May 2001
After all the comments I could only say that it's even better when You are seeing it second time next day. And that I'm looking for sound-track and for Rare and Elvis Costello CD. And that Honda's face is still in my mind.
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crasher4 October 1998
Michael Winterbottom's latest film is definitely unlike everything his done in the past.Deeply influenced by the atmosphere that haunts the films of K.Kieslowski and D.Lynch,he has managed to create such a marvelous erotic and mysterious sensation that truly compensates for the absence of a significant plot.To be rewarded for that,of course,is the renowned photography director Slawomir Idjiak(3 colours,Gattaca) who created the excellent,and sometimes surrealistic,multi-color frames in which the actors told their story.A definite plus to this fascinating film experience is,of course,Elvis Costello's song "I want you" which is bound to never leave your your mind to rest unless you hear it over and over again!
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This one really got me going
pjcons23 December 1998
Warning: Spoilers
A typical film which the Festival of Perth company shows at the Sommerville [outdoor/deckchair] Auditorium: But by far one of the best in recent years.

Cooky enough to keep people interested, but not over the top so people leave before the film's really started (like what I saw in Lost Highway!).

Helen, seemingly innocent, involved herself in something she didn't understand. Got her Daddy killed (Natural Born Killers?) by boyfriend who goes to jail.

Honda to the rescue. A Mute who uses all kinds of wonderful instruments to tape all sorts of noises. His rock star nympho sister having sex. Helen and DJ Dave getting into it 500 metres away in a car @ the beach, and most importantly, Helen killing Martin in self defence as he "raped" her. Helen is intrigued by Honda who uses all forms of presents to woo his girl.

I really enjoyed this film. It really made me think, which is the reason some of us go to the flicks.

VERY small cast and even smaller setting made for great tale to be told. Honda stole the film, my girlfriend thought he was great. Helen stole the film for me. She is the sexiest thing I've seen on screen since Elizabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas. Though for all the working out she was portrayed to be doing, when she got her gear off, she had rather less muscular legs than you'd think for an "endorphin junkie"! Minor glitch in an otherwise excellent film...
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Just too boring for me
sludgehound2 July 2003
I like a brain film too but this didn't grab me. So off for something with more production to it than mere 'art house'. You may take to it if in college soph frame of mind. Above that level and prior comments hold. Bit like a training film that's a wanta be. PS for 1998 wasn't the common church blood cup misplaced in

Age of AIDS? Thought sharing cup went out by then.....anyway.
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