Queerly Ever After is a bi-monthly column where I take a look at LGBT+ films that gave their characters a romantic happily-ever-after. There will be spoilers. Also, don’t forget to buy your Queerly Ever After merch right here.
In Nils Bökamp’s You & I, Jonas (Eric Klotzsch), a German twenty-something photographer who has recently broken up with his girlfriend Julia, and his best friend Philip (George Taylor), a gay, British twenty-something, embark on a summer road trip through the Uckermark in Germany. The two young men have been close friends for some time and, while Jonas is ostensibly straight, their friendship is brimming with unresolved sexual and romantic tension. Along the way they pick up Polish hitchhiker Boris (Michal Grabowski), a young man a couple of years younger than them, who is more familiar with the area than they are.
Jonas asks Boris to tag along with them and show them the sites for a couple of days, and then they will drop him off where he needs to go. Initially, Philip is displeased with having Boris join them; after all, this was supposed to be a trip for him and Jonas who haven’t seen each other in a little while. That all changes when Boris, who at first exhibited some homophobic attitudes, finds himself drawn to Philip and the two begin hooking up, leaving Jonas to feel like a third wheel.
This slow-burn film explores what happens when two friends are forced to confront the emotions they have for each other that are more than platonic. It’s a very European, slice of life arthouse film, so if that’s not your style then this isn’t the film for you. Personally, I enjoy a good slow burn where the focus is more on the simmering tension and what isn’t said than on major plot points.
The three actors (the film has no other characters) do a great job of carrying the movie, and at just seventy-nine minutes long, it is a quick watch. I actually felt it could have used another beat or few, especially towards the end of the film, when Jonas and Philip realize it is time for them to part ways with Boris. That scene is much too abrupt. My guess as to why is that Bökamp couldn’t figure out a more natural way for the characters to part ways.
Now that Boris has become attached to Philip, this is clearly his first experience with another man, maybe with anyone, Bökamp couldn’t conceive of a way for him to exit without Philip and Jonas telling him to leave. However, since Boris was a hitchhiker, clearly on his own way somewhere, I think it would have been a benefit to the movie to let Boris choose to leave on his own, realizing that he has now learned more about himself and his sexuality that he will carry with him as he embarks on his own journeys.
In Conclusion: You & I
My biggest gripe aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Given how short it is, I would actually say it’s worth a second or third watch. There is a lot of subtext that you don’t pick up on the first watch that becomes apparent with subsequent rewatches. The sexual tension between Jonas and Philip is palpable from the get-go, and it’s interesting to watch Jonas grapple with the feelings that he’s had for Philip but never been able to express. Of course, I’m always a fan of well-written bisexual/pansexual/sexually fluid characters.
For all release dates for You & I, see here.
Watch You & I
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