Intimacy has its pros, cons, shapes, sizes, and forms. Everyone has had a special, indescribable connection to another person. The best ones leave us speechless. They leave us ready to take on the world, knowing that there will be someone on the journey every step of the way.
Unfortunately, though, with intimacy comes a certain amount of risk. Being close to another person can invoke a certain amount of fear, because we can blind ourselves to ulterior motives and manipulation. One might call it an instinctual defense mechanism, and someone else might call it idiocy. A major aspect of the human condition is learning to cope with these dangers and ultimately making a decision to live with them in a way that promotes positivity.
I LIVE FOR YOU is a film about the inherent caution of intimacy. It’s a story about two people: Sean and Kate. After his father’s funeral, Sean discovers a note from an unknown person detailing the location of his long-lost evil half brother. The note leads him to find Kate’s apartment. Kate, with her pretty blonde, curly hair, is a bit eccentric, but Sean is obviously drawn to her. This leads to a series of conversations and intimate moments, some are deeply emotional and philosophical, and some are as mundane as foot massages.
There’s a fantastic scene in the film where the two are seemingly talking about nothing as most new lovers would, but Kate randomly starts to sing her responses while playing a guitar. It gives the viewer a crush on her of sorts, in that the striking combination of beauty and mysteriousness leaves us wanting to know more about her. We’re drawn to her just as much as Sean is.
It’s in these moments that the truth slowly begins to reveal itself as to what’s really going on beneath the surface, and the film begins to straddle the line between film noir and romantic drama. Without giving too much away, Kate begins to lead Sean down a path of some criminal activity, as the best femme fatales tend to do, and nothing is as it seems. The film has an extremely unique tone in that it’s one part lyrical drama and one part crime film, but the structure lends itself well to this type of story as it’s set up as a series of vignettes, with some of them being tender and intimate, and some of them being more dramatic.
The tone is conveyed perfectly by the unique cinematography, which is bright and cheerful. Sean is frequently front and center in the frame with a big smile on his face, showing his adoration for Kate. Kate almost always has glowing blonde hair and a big smile on her face too. It’s not hard to see why Sean would blind himself to the sinister motives going on underneath the surface, because the audience doesn’t want to believe it either.
There’s an inherent tenderness in the individual moments that could only be achieved by being drawn from the flimmaker’s personal experience. The scenes are very specific, creative, and sometimes idiosyncratic, as most intimate moments in real life are. There’s another great scene in the film where Sean begins to learn that Kate isn’t all that she seems, but when he shows up at her front door to confront her about it, she offers to have sex with him in the shower. It’s clear that the two people aren’t on the same page at all and it’s a great subversion to typical sex scenes in that Sean ends up ultimately ruining the moment because he’s too preoccupied. A situation like this is relatable in that people in love are often not on the same page, albeit not usually in a criminal context, but still.
The film ultimately wants us to both celebrate intimacy and be weary of it. Along the way, intimate moments can lead to discoveries and truths about one’s self. It might be that one discovers the ability to change for the better, or that one does not want to change at all and feels complacent. Whatever the truths reveal themselves to be, it’s what everyone makes of them that is truly important.
Written by Anthony Gagnon