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YOU & I (#insideout25 review)

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YOU & I

Written and Directed by Nils Bokamp / Starring Eric Klotzsch, George Taylor and Michal Grabowski

Jonas: Go to bed early once and they party without you!

To a soundtrack of obscenities coming through the answering machine from a really pissed off girlfriend, Jonas (Eric Klotzsch) packs his bags and cameras and picks up his friend Philip (George Taylor), arriving from London, England, at the Berlin airport. On their way to the Uckermark region outside Berlin that Jonas wants to capture on film in preparation for a photography project, it is easily apparent that, even though they haven’t seen each other in quite some time, there is a genuine friendship and affection between these two men. Playful Philip brings out the spontaneity in Jonas and the fact that Philip is gay is not an issue. Travelling across unchartered territory in the Mercedes camper, stopping along the way to take pictures where, every now and then a naked Philip is used as a backdrop, theirs is an easy going, laid-back road trip. Until they meet Boris (Michal Grabowski), who originates from Poland. There is a definite mix of anger and sexual tension between Philip and Boris, which Jonas capitalizes on by taking pictures of them, naked and fighting. Yes, there’s a lot of nudity in this movie – some might say gratuitous nudity (I say nothing!).  Not surprisingly, Philip and Boris have a horizontal truce, much to Jonas’s chagrin. By the end of this road trip, things will never be the same between Jonas and Philip.

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I’m glad I waited a few days before writing about YOU & I, as I enjoyed it more than I thought I did initially. Despite the ineffectual way Boris is introduced to the audience – we first see him sitting on a bench through the Mercedes window, followed immediately by a scene in the camper where he bonds with Jonas while Philip is very upset. Seeing Boris with them was so jarring that I thought a reel of the meeting and invitation to join them was missing – I found myself thinking more and more about this movie. Director Nils Bokamp nicely, and somewhat subtly, broaches the topic of close friendships between gay and straight males. Is sex always a niggling factor in the recesses of the brain? Does sex define sexuality? Bokamp asks many questions and, to his credit, leaves the answers for the audience to determine.

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YOU & I screens at the 25th Edition of Inside Out, Toronto’s LGBT Film Festival, on Saturday, May 30, at 7:30 PM, at TIFF Bell Lightbox. For more information and for tickets, please visit insideout.ca.

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