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Review by Sean Bugg
Rating: (5 out of 5)
Sunday, 10/17/2004, 3:00 PM
Feature presentation, $9 at Lincoln Theatre
Russian with English subtitles
VERA AND TIMOFEI are young Muscovite professionals, making their way through a post-Soviet Russia where everything seems perpetually perched on a precipice. Vera is famed as the anchor of Moscow’s evening news program, while Timofei creates commercials touting the benefits of soft drinks (A slogan: “What is freedom? Freedom is cola!”).
The two become a couple after meeting cute in a deli, but it’s not long before their lives are upended by the arrival of Ulumji, a beatific young man from the snowy Russian hinterlands who’s come to the big city to seek a better life.
You I Love is an entertaining and illuminating look into modern Russian culture. While the outlines of the story seem familiar — romantic comedy, he-she-he romantic triangle — Moscow and its culture are always pushing in from the sides of the frame. It’s a world at once familiar and distant.
At first Timofei’s infatuation with Ulumji seems out of place, but slowly one begins to see why he is attracted to this luminous wise naïf. Even Vera, reluctant at first and devastated at the thought of losing her lover to another man, slowly becomes enmeshed in his world.
Complications arise like clockwork — Ulumji’s family is enraged to discover their only child is perverted — but You I Love never feels forced as it deftly tells its story, leaving you both saddened and elated by an ending that’s not what you want or expect, but does leave you with a sense of promise for the future. Not a bad message from that perch on the precipice.