Lionsgate // 2012 // 101 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // March 1st, 2012
Love and desire...it gets complicated.
Imagine looking over the pop charts in your native land and deciding that the current chartoppers, a controversial duo best known for their disposable Euro-trash dance hooks and faux lesbian attitude, would make the perfect subject for yet another sour coming of age melodrama. Then decide to push the combo to the corners so you can highlight a manipulative mess between two fervent female fans who just can't help but fall in love with each other while fetishizing their shared combo.
Add in a rogue male, a few sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll riffs, and the kind of lame local color that only a dreary and drab Russia can provide, and you've got some idea of what You and I is like. Made nearly five years ago, when subject band t.A.T.u were a hot Moscow commodity, the ridiculous Roland Joffe effort (yes, Mr. Killing Fields is responsible for this mindless mess) has been sitting on a shelf until now. Today, it's as relevant and entertaining as a Backstreet Boys reunion.
With Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova having called it quits a couple years ago -- yes, t.A.T.u. has officially disbanded -- You and I plays like a dissertation on prog rock just as punk has come to the fore. It's like taking Lady Gaga and surrounding her superstardom with a sappy, saccharine morality tale, and then waiting until Ms. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta drops out of the limelight before releasing the final results. Of course, the filmmakers would argue that former band is just a minor part of the dramatic backdrop. Oh joy.
The main story centers on Russian model wannabe (Mischa Barton, The Sixth Sense) and her newfound love affair with American t.A.T.u. aficionado Janie (Shantel VanSanten, The Final Destination). For former eventually falls in with a bad crowd and fends off the advances of a sleazy impersario (Anton Yelchin, Star Trek), while the latter is kicked out of her wicked stepmother's apartment and winds up strung out and homeless. Of course, they have their love of t.A.T.u. to keep them focused, as well as a desire to write songs for the group. Since this is a movie, they eventually achieve their goal.
Rarely does a movie miss the mark as many times as You and I. From the superficial same sex angle (lesbianism, as it was "allegedly" with t.A.T.u., is just a gimmick) to a level of melodrama that would make Tyler Perry jealous, there is nothing here to engage us or identify with. While the actors all try to convince us of their authenticity (Ms. Barton's Rocky and Bullwinkle level accent aside), we don't really care what happens to them. As Lana falls further down the post-Soviet rabbit hole, winding up in jail for a wholly absurd reason, we hope that said subplot is just part of an elaborate joke. Turns out, all of You and I could play like a prank if it weren't so dour and serious.
Chalk this up to the involvement of Joffe, who given his track record is clearly slumming here (well, this and the tired torture porn of Captivity). It's like putting Sir Richard Attenborough in charge of a Spice Girls romp. Somehow, the inherent artistry of the man behind the lens combines with the kitschy cheese of the narrative to create a cinematic landfill. Without any gratuity or real erotic steam, we stuck with a couple of gals learning life lessons we don't care about. Now that's cause for celebration, or better yet, outright rejection.
As a DVD, Lionsgate does a decent job. The 2.40:1 image has a polished and professional feel and the Dolby Digital 5.1 highlights the supposed delights of t.A.T.u.'s alleged pop sensibilities. For those who care, the dopey dialogue is easy to understand. As for added content, a trailer gallery is all that's offered. Indeed, nothing shows faith in your five year old film better than advertising the other films you can get from a distributor.
Sometimes, a movie deserves its MIA status. You and I may flirt with some saucy, scandalous issues, but it ends up being as provocative as a revue at a retirement home. One imagines the elderly being more entertaining, however.
Guilty. Pop culture claptrap disguised as dramatic relevance.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated R