I Want You (1998) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

On paper, I Want You has certain thematic and structural similarities to Atom Egoyan's masterpiece The Sweet Hereafter. Like Egoyan's film, I Want You includes a strong undercurrent of father/daughter incest. Like Egoyan's film, I Want You starts with vague, mysterious plot details and gradually peels away layer after layer of the mystery. A man arrives in a seacoast town in England after having been absent for many years. Why did he leave, and why has he returned? As the script progresses, we find out that he was in prison, then we find out that he killed someone in that very town. Another character is introduced. The local hairdresser is not willing to have sex with her boyfriend. She's not much interested in sex at all. What caused that?

The mysterious stranger seems to be her ex-boyfriend ...

 ... and so forth.

I've only scratched the surface of the revelations, and I've only touched on two of the four main characters. To reveal any more would spoil the basic mystery, which boils down to the identity of the murder victim. Even after that is known, many mysteries remain, and the behavior of some characters seems inexplicable until all the hole cards have been turned over. As each character's secrets are revealed, the lives of the characters seem to get more closely interwoven. Even when the film is over, certain elements of the plot resolution are implicit rather than explicit. I think I understand what happened in the past to drive the events which transpire in the present, but my understanding is based on several assumptions

In reality, the resemblance to Egoyan's film ends there. If The Sweet Hereafter is all well-scrubbed, polite, middle-class angst from credible people and situations, I Want You is all gritty and impoverished Anglotrash despair in some kind of post-modern fantasy world populated by typical offbeat film characters and gimmicks. (One of the main characters does not speak and, although he seems to live in dire poverty, owns all sorts of state-of-the-art bugging and taping equipment, which he uses for eavesdropping and recording the comings and goings of other characters, especially when they are engaged in anything sexual.) The Sweet Hereafter is elegant and glacial, photographed in stark whites with very little in the way of artificial lighting or colored filters, and it's backed by somber, refined music. I Want You is all filters and/or lighting gimmicks all the time, mostly blue and amber hues, all backed by eerie punk and alternative rock. The director of I Want You is Michael Winterbottom, a man who is constantly experimenting with storytelling and cinematic forms. In his later film, 9 Songs, he filled virtually an entire screenplay with nothing except explicit sex and musical performances, all presented unedited and in real time. Sex and performances comprise perhaps 95% of the running time of that particular movie, with the rest consisting of a simple framing story in which a man looks back on the sex and concerts as a way of coming to terms with a key relationship in his past life. I Want You is sort of a harbinger of 9 Songs, in that it also has a brief framing story (which seems unnecessary to me) and also includes some full musical numbers in real time as well as some long, drawn-out sexual acts, albeit far less explicit ones than in the later movie. Sometimes the sexuality and music are combined, as when a stripper delivers a long private performance.

Although the mysteries of the plot are intriguing, and the film is certainly not a routine commercial effort, you may well find your mind wandering during the overlong digressions, or distracted by some of the arthouse mannerisms of the film. I had a problem with those elements, and I also have to invoke the Siskel Rule, because I didn't enjoy spending time with any of the four main characters, which in turn made it difficult to care about their past, present, or future activities. It's a film that I admired far more than I liked. The film does have some enthusiastic supporters, however, among those who look for alternative cinema experiences.


  • No region 1 DVD available
  • There is a region 2 DVD (PAL format) available in Germany, and it has an English-language sound track. Click on the picture to the right for info from the American importer.
  • No features except the original trailer
  • But there is a nice widescreen anamorphic transfer of the 2.35:1 film



  • Rachel Weisz - breasts in a sex scene. Public hair in an argument. Buns underwater.

  • Allesandro Nivola - bum

  • David Fahms - seen from behind in an explicit sexual pose. Bum, balls, and some of his penis.

  • Labina Mitevska - breast and bum

  • Dee Dee Menta - the full monty, front and rear.

I Want You DVD Rachel Weisz Widescreen (1998)

The Critics Vote ...

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C, an interesting arthouse film, but only for those who deliberately seek offbeat material. It does have a good story on the rare occasions when it decides to tell it.

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