You, the Living

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You, the Living flips through 50-some single-panel vignettes, many very funny, arranged by Roy Andersson, a Swedish director best known for his commercial work and 2000’s Songs From the Second Floor. An (almost always) stationary camera captures a procession of lugubrious Stockholmians; the caption to most of the stills could be “I can’t go on.” Connections between scenes are loose, if any. A heaplike fiftyish biker gal replays teen-angst classics (“Nobody understands me!”) for her boyfriend in a public park. A man hunched over a walker obliviously drags his pet terrier behind him, tangled in its leash. A prematurely embalmed-looking fellow complains about his pension plans while his stout Brünnhilde of a wife mounts him. Andersson delights particularly in left-outs: the guy who can’t squeeze into the busstop during a downpour; the natty little suitor getting his bouquet smashed in a slamming door. The sum total is the reflection of a worldview—sad sack, bordering on “Everybody Hurts” black-velvet sad-clown bathos—rather than any narrative. The title comes from Goethe’s Roman Elegies, an admonition to appreciate one’s measure of life “before Lethe’s ice-cold wave will lick your escaping foot.” This I take to be one of Andersson’s dry jokes, as his anhedonic characters already seem settled in Hades—a streetcar even lists Lethe as its destination.
Sun., Jan. 3, 2, 4, 7:15 & 9:20 p.m.; Mon., Jan. 4, 7:15 & 9:20 p.m., 2010

 
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