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You I Love

cast: Evgency Koryakovsky, Lyubov Tolkalina, and Damir Badmaev

directors: Olga Stolpovskaya, Dmitry Troitsky

86 minutes (15) 2004
widescreen ratio 1.77:1
TLA DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
Contemporary Moscow: Timofei (Evgency Koryakovsky) works in a soulless advertising agency, fooling customers into believing soft drinks will change their lives. When he comes to the rescue of insecure television presenter Vera (Lyubov Tolkalina) after her purse is stolen, they begin an affair fuelled largely by her erotic obsession with food. But their lives become altogether more complicated when country boy Ulumji (Damir Badmaev) falls in front of Timofei's car. Soon the two men are passionately in love, to Vera's shock and to the outrage of Ulumji's conservative parents. Can they find a way to work out this complicated tangle of emotions?

This Russian comedy, no doubt a good deal more shocking over there than it is to a liberal western audience, is an attempt to show the new Russia and its effect on its young citizens. Indeed, You I Love (aka: Ya Lublu Tebya) is the Russian equivalent of a Richard Curtis rom-com - mostly wealthy protagonists working out their neuroses in quirky ways against beautiful backdrops (and in fairness, it does make Moscow look spectacular). Like Curtis, it also lays on the whimsy with a spade - the shot of Ulumji leading a reindeer down the centre of one of Moscow's boulevards, ignored by weary drivers, seems to have been created solely to make an impression in the trailer. However, it does pack a bit of a punch, exposing the insecurities that come with Vera's fame and the pointlessness of Timofei's well-paid job. Ulumji is the weakest character here: his early 'country boy in the city' act is so overplayed as to make him look mentally challenged, and his largely passive role renders him more of a plot device than a real participant.

There's nothing here we have haven't seen before in European relationship comedies, the structure is often weak, and there are very few real laughs, but the film coasts along on a certain charm and the beauty of its settings. Probably one for fans of Russian cinema rather than the general rom-com audience, but it's a film that shows some promise. Look out, Mr Curtis, the Russians are coming...
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