“YOU & I”
A “Post Gay” Film
“You and I” is described as a “post-gay” film and the reason for this is that there is no sexual confusion, no hostile environment, no tenderness and no repression. We see characters and situation where nothing can be assumed and nothing is certain. The film opens with young photographer; Jonas (Eric Klotzsch) walking around his apartment in his underwear while his upset girlfriend leaves angry messages on his answer machine. Later we see Jonas picking up Philip (George Taylor), his best friend and ex-housemate from his time living in London, and they start out on a road trip through the countryside of northeast Germany. We see the two driving around, swimming naked, and playing hide and seek. But there is something relaxed and surprisingly intimate between the two – they have no fear about kissing on the lips or pulling each other in for an embrace and it’s only later that we find out that Philip is gay and Jonas is clearly very accepting about his friend’s sexuality. Their friendship somehow transcends the normally awkward boundaries between gay and straight, though it is very certain they are nothing more than friends.
Although the beginning is quite slow, the film picks up when the guys pick up a Polish hitchhiker, Boris (Michal Grabowski). Initially, Boris is alarmed when Philip tells him that he’s gay and lashes out violently when a naked Philip jumps on his back as a prank. But it soon becomes clear that there is something between them and after a drunken night they have sex. Jonas becomes upset and irritated with the other two and feels left out and jealous that his friend is having a good time. With no indication or dramatic signposting, Jonas suddenly kisses Philip, who is completely shocked and blindsided. This is a bit difficult to understand probably because there is little character and plot development in the script, which, for the most part. A lot of the acting makes us wonder how this just came to be, as though the director does not want us to know.
In the closing scenes we see Philip and Jonas preparing Jonas’s photographs for an exhibition. Philip has his arms around Jonas and tenderly kisses his neck. We do not know if they are together or if their friendship has become sexual or romantic or both. Is Jonas now gay or bisexual, or is this a case of his falling for an individual rather than falling for men generally? I suppose the reason that these questions are not answered is because this is what director Nils Bökamp wants but this is frustrating to the viewer. Perhaps this is relationship that cannot be labeled or it could be just one of the gay fantasies with regard to straight men.
Despite this and the film’s other shortcomings, there is something hypnotic about the film which is obviously because of the impressionistic style of the film due largely to the impressionistic style and the improvised chemistry between the two leads who both deliver fine and authentic performances. The questions that we are left are interesting and make us think about the future of gay life.