Last updated on 12 hours ago
This whole post-gay thing is super confusing. What do we do now that being gay isn’t the be all and end all?
What do we do now that we are allowed to have straight male friends and be affectionate with them?
What’s more, where is all the angsty queer drama going to come from?Take this case study: good-looking German feature You & I.
The “I” here is hot German photographer, Jonas (Eric Klotzsch); sexuality straight. The “You” is hotter English, German-speaking, laughter loving, nudity preferring, ex-housemate, Philip (George Taylor); sexuality gay. The two reunite in Jonas’ Mercedes campervan for a leisurely road trip through the rolling hills of the Uckermark.
Sounds like every second queer film, no?
Throw it in between Harvest (MQFF 2012) and Summer Storm (MQFF 2005); it’s even got the obligatory shirtless pontoon sunbathing scene. There is one small issue though. Sexual tension: nil. Dramatic tension: nil.
Turns out well-adjusted cross-sexuality friendships don’t make for edge of your seat cinema. Yet, You & I isn’t so easily dismissed.
The film’s first act may be a little limp but director Nils Bökamp imbues the young men’s reconnection with enough energy to maintain attention.
Klotzsch and Taylor give engaging performances, cut through with the kind of faux-vérité freshness that warrants the low-key narrative flow. Taylor’s smile has a cheekiness reminiscent of Michael Fassbender, and Bökamp’s laissez faire direction gives him space to flash it openly and often. And that’s not all that’s flashed.
Actually, the nudity counter is off the chart – they’re super comfortable with each other, y’know. All this, and it has to be said, the luscious scenery is extremely well treated by cinematographer, Alexander Fuchs. The point being, You & I is far from a difficult watch.
Then… enter Boris (Michal Grabowski)… we’ll call him the “&”.
Hot, Polish, straggly haired, backpackerly, homophobic; sexuality unlabelled. He brings the tension with him, dramatic and sexual. Well, to a point.
Bökamp’s approach to the material remains impressionistic but the insertion of Boris’ bristling Eastern European values brings a spark that sets the slow burn to a smoulder. It turns out just a hint of traditional pre-post-gay angst is enough to tip this new frontier bro-triangle into strangely endearing territory. Endearing, affecting and gently pulsing with erratic chemistry.
You & I may be a gear change for some but will reward those willing to take it down a notch and embrace its ambiguity. It’s a film riding the zeitgeist (it’s German, it fits) and may well provide some invaluable pointers in this brave new world of gay straight relations: Turn your bromance into romance… or something like that.