Me Too (Ya tozhe khochu, 2012)

Russian DVD edition

Text written 2020-11-10

With this film he bade us farewell, the great russian film master Aleksey Balabanov. The film premiered in december 2012 and he
died in may 2013. Balabanov, in my eyes the Luis Buñuel of russian film and one of my absolute favourite film directors with his
eye for the ridiculous and absurd and with his great sense of humour.

In the haunting apocalyptic ending of this film we get to see him in the role of the spurned film director, waiting for the end sitting
in the snow. Profound but not pretentious as he was dying from cancer when filming Me Too and done with an ironic but lovable
wink to us about pitiful humans searching for a meaning of existence and for an absolution to their lives, for finding happiness.
I'm not a religious person myself and i'm not sure about Balabanov's religiosity or his philosophy but i do hope he was luckier with
his own ending than his alter ego in the film spurned by the Bell Tower.

Aleksandr Mosin and Aleksey Balabanov

Me Too is a fascinating and deeply personal take on the Judgement Day theme. Visually beautiful shot by Aleksandr Simonov,
the cinematographer Balabanov used for his last 4 films - Gruz 200/Cargo 200 in 2007, Morfiy/Morphine in 2008, Kochegar/Stoker
in 2010 and Me Too in 2012.
And with a great soundtrack provided
by singer/songwriter Leonid Fyodorov of the group Auktyon/Auction fame. Thereby
superseding Vyacheslav Butusov (from group Nautilus Pompilius) who was AB's soundtrack provider for the 1997 Brother,
Brother 2, War and 2005 Zhmurki.

The Bell Tower of Happiness

Balabanov won a Best Director award at the St. Petersburg International Film Festival for Me Too, and it was nominated for Best
Film by Russia Guild of Film Critics and best Film at the Venice Film Festival. He was mostly an indie artmovie filmmaker and his
films were shown at film festivals all over the world. But this his last film is surely much underrated and it's a shame that this great
and highly idiosyncratic filmdirector isn't better known outside Russia as Aleksey Balabanov had a style of his own.

When writing this in early november 2020 i still haven't seen his 2008 Morfiy/Morphine or 2010 Kochegar/Stoker, but Me Too is
as good as the other best Balabanov films i've seen - Brat/Brother, Of Freaks and Men/Pro urodo i lyudey or Cargo 200/Gruz 200.

I found it fascinating, mystical, deeply personal, funny, beautiful, poetic and apocalyptic with a haunting ending not to be
forgotten, all in all A True Aleksey Balabanov Masterpiece and something like Stalker meets Luis Buñuel.

Oleg Garkusha as the musician shouting a song at the camp-fire

The Story: A gangster, Sanya (Aleksandr Mosin) who in the film intro can be seen killing a couple of men visits a Banya (a russian
Sauna) where he meets an old acquintance, The Musician (Oleg Garkusha) a gloomy middle-aged man carrying his guitar around.
The unlikeable Sanya (a ruthless killer, homophobe and most probably a racist too) is in a jolly mood. After murdering the 4 men in
the intro he has visited a priest for absolution of his crime, and everything is copacetic again. He can now enjoy his sauna and his
salty food without any worries, but the priest told him a story ....

Somewhere between St. Petersburg and Uglich (in the south-east) there's a sealed off radiation zone with a Bell Tower of Happiness.
A tower that somehow transports people. All the locals in the zone has died from something unknown, radiation perhaps. But,
Sanya is taking the chance and will go there with his buddy Yura (Yuriy Matveev) and Musician wants to go with them - Me Too!
Yura's old father and a female hitch-hiker (Alisa Shitkova), a sad woman with an university degree in philosophy but now working
as a prostitute, joins them too. And they're on their way, with lots of Vodka consumption and funny pathetic dialogue. On a quest for
happiness and redemption.

Even though it's summer there's winter in the zone. Soldiers guard the entry but won't stop anyone from entering, and this on the
order from the Archbishop. No-one is stopped from taking their chance with the mystical happiness/judgement Day Bell Tower.

This DVD had russian audio DD 2.0 and was presented in widescreen ratio


Back to Russian Film page