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Featured DVD Review: You and I

January 30th, 2012

You and I - Buy from Amazon or Video on Demand

You and I was first announced in 2006, filming began in 2007, and it was first shown to audiences at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. ... And then nothing. It wasn't even released in its native Russia till this past weekend. Over here, it is coming out on DVD on Tuesday. Are the delays a bad sign? Or did the film just fall between the cracks till now?

The Movie

Shantel VanSanten from One Tree Hill stars as Janie Sawyer, an American living in Moscow with her step-family and hasn't fit in and is struggling to find friends since moving there. She's a fan of t.A.T.u., a Russian pop group, and she meets a fellow fan, Lana Starkova, on a fanboard. Lana lives in a small town hours away from Moscow and works in a slaughter house. This is not exactly a job she's excited to go to each day and she escapes into her poetry. Janie has even taken a poem Lana had written and turned it into a song and posted it on YouTube. When they learn of an upcoming t.A.T.u. concert in Moscow, the pair decide to meet for the first time.

When they do meet, they get along great, despite their difference in lifestyle. Janie's family is quite rich, while Lana lives in poverty with her mother. But Janie's home life isn't great, as she spends a lot of time fighting with her step-mother. Their day together starts out great, but later they find out the tickets to the concert are fake, so they head to a club instead. There they run into Edvard Nikitin, who runs a model agency. It is Lana's goal to become a model, in order to escape poverty. They also run into Dima, a Russian pop star trying to go solo, and his manager, Ian, who is a bit of a lowlife. (Understatement. We first meet him as he's online scamming money out of men by pretending to be a sexy Russian woman.) When they go back to Janie's apartment, her mother refuses to let her back in, unless she goes to rehab center. (Janie has a habit of stealing her step-mother's pills.) They end up spending the first night at some Russian bike dive, but later crash at Edvard Nikitin's, but despite a romantic evening together, Janie leaves the next morning to buy drugs.

While Lana's and Janie's relationship falls apart as quickly as it started, someone is tracking them down. It's Max, t.A.T.u.'s producer, who found the clip Janie put online and is looking for the pair of them, because he thinks they have talent as a composer / lyricist team. Will he find them? And will they get back together?

I'm having trouble coming up with a way to describe this film. It's not a bad film, but it is also not a good film. It merely exists. The early part of the movie with Lana and Janie getting to know each other is okay, but after they find out the tickets are fake, it becomes too disjointed. The warnings about drugs and the predatory nature of the modeling business could have been a strong storyline in a different film, but it didn't fit well with the earlier tone. (It was also a little ham-fisted.) The chemistry between the two leads was good and the film could have been a nice lighthearted romantic comedy with a lesbian twist. Instead of what the filmmakers attempted to make, which was more of a dark drama, a cautionary tale.

On a side note, the film cost between $12 million and $20 million to make. That seems like a huge amount of money for a film like this. Maybe if it were released at the height of t.A.T.u.'s popularity, it might have been able to make that money back (the band did sell more than 10 million CDs worldwide), but now it feels very dated.

The Extras

There are no extras on the DVD.

The Verdict

The filmmakers behind You and I should have either tried to make a lesbian romance about two women who meet because of their mutual love of a band, or a cautionary tale about drugs and the modeling industry. Combining the two didn't work. If you like the two lead actresses, then it might be worth checking out, but since there are no extras on the DVD, maybe renting it on Video on Demand is the way to go.

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Filed under: Video Review, You and I