Busan 2014 Review: YOU (US) ME Finds Beauty In Deplorability
Edward is a serial killer, stalking the dark canals and abandoned parts of London to quickly dispatch various young women. For him it is a release and a compulsion that certainly brings no joy in his life. His mundane day job provides him with a functional existence but he can barely focus between stalking his next victim and receiving frequent calls from his extremely overbearing mother. Strangely, Edward is a likeable enough guy and his portrayal warrants the screen time you want to spend with him. Inter-cut Edward's life with Vivian, a manically depressed suicidal that just cannot get the deed done. She drinks herself to oblivion and one night due to happen-stance is ironically saved by Edward.
Welcome to the most dysfunctional relationship committed to screen in recent memory as they both fall into a kind of love; Edward wants to go straight and believes Vivian is the key, while Vivian just wants him to kill her, offering the sweet relief of what torments her. In between their special relationship are loose ends they both must tie up, as it is revealed that their inherently wrong coupling has serious consequences.
You (Us) Me's plot sounds either depressingly dire or extremely cheesy but thankfully it is neither. Sobol instead sets the scene with an extremely confident and pervasive tone that traverses genre effortlessly. When it needs to be, the film is a dark comedy, a philosophical quagmire, a relationship drama and a shocking thriller. This may sound messy, but is in fact contextually relevant to the situation.
The absurdity of the relationship does not go unheeded, it is both played for laughs and harshly critiqued. Of course the mostly excellent performance from Edward (Chris Wilde) and utterly brilliant turn from Vivian (Hannah Kew) ground these extremely disturbed people. Hannah is completely believable as the broken Vivian, portraying both self-destruction and complete disdain effortlessly. The juxtaposition of their 'otherness' is brilliantly played out when they interact with their 'normal' friends and family. Edward can barely hold a conversation without seeming disinterested or confused, while Vivian's abrasiveness and instability drives everyone around her away.
The film avoids cliché and wraps its drama in a stylish (but not overtly so) sequence of edits, powerful mise en scene and beautifully bleak locations. The killer original sound track and powerfully composed yet minimal vocal techno tracks also enhance each key scene of conflicted emotion. The sharp pacing of You (Us) Me and its twists and turns ensure both an entertaining and affecting experience, although the film does lose its way towards the third act, it regains its composure with a powerfully telling finale that is both heart-breaking and necessary.
You (Us) Me is a refreshing take on the serial killer. Its absurd premise is treated delicately and it is hard not to feel for both characters. The film disarms you with funny moments, quiet moments and thrilling moments before pulling the rug and spiralling into a painful despair. Regardless of its disturbing content, it is the confident energy of the direction, tonal balance and powerful performances that makes You (Us) Me a pleasure to watch.