I came across this at some film festival. It stuck with me long afterwards and I thought about it again recently after having been failed to be moved by some hollywood product.
I saw you is a skillfully rendered portrait of the personal paranoia. The story charts one mans attempts to communicate his love for his estranged wife, through placing an 'I SAW YOU' advert in a daily newspaper. (this is a kind of `missed connections' section in the dating section). The romantic joke backfires and soon his wife, and her workmates think that she has a real life secret admirer.
It's a bit like the story of `babooska' in as much as it's abou someone pretending to be a romantic stranger, or at least that what it seems.
"I saw you' must be one of the most though provoking films on the subject of surveillance ever made. It achieves this precisely because it neither uses surveillance as a plot device or as a gimmick. The story is really a very touching and psychologically in depth study of a marriage that has gone stale. Both characters are in their 30's and are without children. Iris, the wife has been supporting Lawrence, for years and the hinted at burden has been heavy on her . She has become blind to any charms he has (the least of all being his almost absurd sense of humor and his deadpan expressions). In turn Lawrence's unemployment has made him crave a job and the only thing he can find is a nightshift surveillance job. At work he watches her leaving for work and, he secretly tapes her through the day. Iris can't stand his new job because it means that she never sees him, but he is convinced that the money earned and self esteem gained will right their failing relationship. His little I SAW YOU perk comes at exactly the wrong time - when Iris is questioning a relationship in which she no longer even sees her husband.
Poignantly scripted by Ewan Morrison and John Dingwall, and directed by Morrison, the film is a wrenching story of personal paranoia, and the cost of deception in a relationship. Much of the film's power derives from Russell Anderson's low key and hard etched performance as the increasingly desperate Lawrence. The final speech in itself must be one of the most moving sequences that I have witnessed in a love story in the last five years. At once pathetic, sentimental and cold, it breaks our daily cynicism with it's painful simplicity and dare I say it, simple truth.
"I saw you' is a testament to the skills of director Ewan Morrison. In someone elses hands the alchemy of form and content would not have come about and the two elements of love story and surveillance story would have seemed forced. However, under his guiding hand, even the technical contributions have great emotional depth, telling us as much about the character's isolation and strength as the story itself. Morrison's restless eye keeps us moving and guessing, and innovates with the mixed formats of surveillance without ever indulging in trickery. The cinematography of Oliver Cheesman is to be admired for it's courage in throwing away the rule book: His `wrong framings' bring to mind perfectly the images of domestic snapshots, surveillance and events as much missed as caught on camera. Evoking powerfully the inner turmoil of the characters, and the central them of blindspots and opportunities missed.
In I Saw You Morrison has built a disturbing metaphor for our times: Overbearing love as a form of surveillance. As we become increasingly isolated from one another one can imagine that this short film may actually tell us something of the time to come. No small achievement for such a short film.
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