Karlovy Vary 2014: David Lambert’s ‘Je Suis a Toi’

Loneliness, desire, companionship, love in strange days and eternal relationship transactions, fermented in a “well done” effect by David Lambert of «Hors les Murs».

The film begins with a series of webcam shots by Lucas, a young man from Argentina, who sells sex online, exhibits himself, and tempts his clients to show their credit cards. One of them, Henry, a middle-aged, overweight baker from a small Belgian town, pays for his airfare and invites Lucas to go live with him, to share his bed, bakery and life.

As you might expect, the older man’s one-sided feelings of love – built on a handful of internet hook-ups – and the young man’s career prospects, in fact are far removed from what each had imagined, and without the security of a webcam and keyboard to hide behind, real life sets in and nothing appears to be ideal.

If the two men’s relationship seems problematic from the start, the fact that the young man – who declares he’s straight – seems more interested in Henry’s young employee, a young mother stuck in her own solitude, only serves to complicate matters. Furthermore, along the way the screenplay guides the heroes and plot into unnecessary developments to shed light on the personalities of the heroes.

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This is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film, the subtle way it manages to trace, not only the three characters entangled in this love triangle, but their internal solitude, which seems to be a building block of human nature, especially at a time when communication between people was never made easier.

Even though the film’s story seems to prepare you for a sad drama, it attempts to introduce elements of surrealist comedy, but these don’t always work in its favor, especially because they are based on the body features of the heroes (reminiscent of Laurel and Hardy) and the jokes are always played on the overweight character.

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However, the three actors that hold the film’s main roles are excellent and on the whole the film manages to be calm and powerful in equal measure, both emotionally raw and awkwardly tender. ‘Je Suis a Toi’ is without a doubt a step forward for the Belgian director. In this film he finds an interesting tone and sincere way to look at his heroes and their circumstances, and a language of his own, which is akin to but not identical with new Belgian cinema’s realism.

Read more about the 49th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.