You Am I

Perplexing but agreeable fable tracts an architect who builds a tree house high in a forest to be alone, but finds himself drawn to a pretty girl nearby. Sophomore outing for Lithuanian writer-helmer Kristijonas Vildziunas goes off in all kinds of kooky directions. Pic could send shallow roots on the fest circuit, but won't replant offshore.

With:
With: Andrius Bialobzeskis, Jurga Jutaite, Mykolas Vildziunas, Renata Veberyte-Loman, Daiva Jovaisiene, Silvia Ferreri, Martynas Musanja. (Lithuanian, English dialogue).

Perplexing but agreeable fable “You Am I” tracts an architect who builds a tree house high in a forest to be alone, but finds himself drawn to a pretty girl nearby. Sophomore outing for Lithuanian writer-helmer Kristijonas Vildziunas (“The Lease”) goes off in all kinds of kooky directions, creating impression script was cooked up after a wild night of partying, but is nevertheless soothing to look at thanks to pro tech credits. Pic could send shallow roots on the fest circuit, but won’t replant offshore.

Pic starts with an enigmatic prologue which only makes sense once it’s discovered to be a story-within-pic’s-story written by aspiring novelist Kristupas (Mykolas Vildziunas).

Focus then hones in on Baron (professional thesp Andrius Bia-lobzeskis), an architect who plans to downsize his life by construct-ing a tree house high in the canopy and deep in a forest outside Vilnius, Lithuania. After visiting a hookah-smoking ex-g.f. (Renata Veberyte-Loman) in a small village, Baron rows up river in a canoe with his tools and sets to work, labor shown in long sequences that will be of interest to arborists and home-improvement fans, but a bit dull for everyone else.

Given Baron’s name, storyline’s similarity to Italo Calvino’s 1957 novel “The Baron in the Trees,” about an 18th Italian nobleman who moves into the treetops on his estate and never comes down again, could hardly be coincidental, even if it’s unacknowledged in credits.

Helmer Vildziunas shouldn’t be accused of plagiarism, however, as his Baron descends regularly to wander round the forest, where he occasionally meets half-naked, dreadlocked dream figure (Martynas Musanja) who tells him gnomically at one point, in English, that, “You am I, and I am You.” That’s certainly not in Calvino’s book. Nor does it make much sense, even if one reads pic’s press notes where Vildziunas explains the line and image came from a dream he once had.

Hippy vibe is upped further in subplot about a weekend party where everyone smokes dope and dances round a fire. There, Dominyka (non-pro actor Jurga Jutaite) catches the eye of Kristupas whose chat-up line is to tell her she reminds him of a character in a story he’s writing about a love triangle. Romantic three-way is played out in pic’s main plot when Baron gate-crashes the party and starts courting Dominyka.

Pic doesn’t so much conclude as meander to a halt. Still, with its verdant forests and long takes observing comely young folk disporting themselves like contempo nymphs and satyrs, pic makes for not unpleasant, pastoral viewing. Film hasn’t quite the emotional heft of Vildziunas’ previous pic, “The Lease,” but it still proves him to be a young helmer with a unique style who may yet produce something sub-stantial .

You Am I

Lithuania - Germany

Production: A Studio Uljana Kim (Lithuania)/Pandora Film (Germany) production, with the support of the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture, Lithuanian Support Foundation for Culture and Sports, MEDIA program. (International sales: The Match Factory, Cologne, Germany.) Produced by Uljana Kim. Executive producer, Galina Kim. Directed, written by Kristijonas Vildziunas.

Crew: Camera (color), Vladas Naudzius; editors, Danielius Kokanauskis, Vildziunas; music, Linas Rimsa; production and costume designer, Agne Rimkute; sound (Dolby Digital), Vladimir Golovnicki. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 24, 2006. Running time: 87 MIN.

With: With: Andrius Bialobzeskis, Jurga Jutaite, Mykolas Vildziunas, Renata Veberyte-Loman, Daiva Jovaisiene, Silvia Ferreri, Martynas Musanja. (Lithuanian, English dialogue).

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