You Belong to Me
Wolfe Video // Unrated // $24.95 // June 3, 2008
Review by Cameron McGaughy | posted April 16, 2008
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"Why tie yourself up in knots over someone who is just so wrong?" - Nicki

The Movie:
I had to laugh when, shortly into direct-to-video You Belong To Me, Jeffrey tries to convince his potential landlady to rent him an apartment by saying, "I'm stable! I have good credit!" You see, Jeffrey is far from stable.

In the opening scenes of writer/director Sam Zalutsky's thriller, Jeffrey (Daniel Sauli) is instantly established as a lovelorn architect who can't see the clear signs that French friend/f-buddy Rene (Julien Lucas) is all wrong for him. Besides the clear disinterest in anything more meaningful, Rene seems to be hiding something. So when Jeffrey spots him with another man outside, he follows them to a building and is spotted by Gladys (Patti D'Arbanville), who mistakenly thinks he's interested in renting one of her apartments. Rather than simply walk away, Jeffery decides to further the facade in an effort to be closer to Rene. He looks at the apartment--which has water damage on the floor, a broken window frame and is mysteriously filled with the previous tenant's belongings like clothes, medication and a ring that Jeffrey steals--and decides to move in. He then tells roomie and friend Nicki (Heather Simms) that he's all of a sudden just leaving her.

An indecent proposal

It's this setup that provides the biggest stumbling block to taking this film seriously, because nothing is grounded in reality. Sure, we've all made mistakes in the name of love, but the severity of Jeffrey's ridiculous actions--made even more infuriating by their matter-of-fact portrayal, almost like the script doesn't acknowledge how silly it all is--is impossible to overlook. This isn't played as campy or fantasy-driven, it's grounded in reality. And that's the biggest problem with the film, because everything that follows is predicated on clear evidence that Jeffrey is a little cuckoo--and it's impossible to muster one ounce of sympathy for him for what soon happens.

For starters, Rene already has a live-in boyfriend. And it turns out that the previous tenant's name in Jeffrey's apartment was Geoffrey (and guess what! Gladys has a son with the same name). Soon, Jeffrey hears muffled noises through the floor above Gladys' apartment. A man named Michael pays a frantic visit to Jeffrey's apartment, looking for his missing lover. A spooky tenant roams the halls, in search of his long-lost wife. And a big handyman named Stuart makes a habit of creeping people out. When Jeffrey finally tries to get to the bottom of those noises from Gladys' apartment halfway through the film, he suddenly finds himself fighting for his life.

Jeffrey gets an ear full.

There are no surprises here; you can see everything coming well in advance. Sauli (giving off a Patrick Dempsey vibe) turns in a performance that is likeable, which doesn't mesh with the character's actions. And there isn't enough fire in him--his feeble attempts at escape are severely disappointing (and just what are you doing under that bed?! C'mon, Jeffrey! Try a little harder to be slightly smart or clever!). D'Arbanville (best known for smaller roles in excellent TV shows and movies far better than this) turns in a good performance, about as much as one can ask for with the script she was given. Nicki seems to be the only character who is written as an actual normal person, but even then, it's the odd reactions--make that non-reactions--that these characters have to severe situations that ruin the film from the start.

Rene and Nicki come knocking.

The Rene sub-plot goes no where, and it becomes clear that Zalutsky is aiming to make some sort of statement on obsession--but clearly doesn't have much to say when it's all said and done. There's a lofty theme lurking here, one that is only brushed upon and winds up being an empty promise after a "twist" ending that has no meat on its bones.


Presented in anamorphic widescreen (what looks to be close to 1.85:1), this direct-to-video entry has some issues with colors, with flesh tones looking different from shot to shot in some sequences. The scenes here are frequently dark, and the blacks are sometimes a little too overpowering.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track is mostly fine, although some scenes (especially in the beginning) don't have much balance, and it's hard to actually understand some lines of dialogue. This is a very "quiet" movie from a soundtrack perspective, with the subdued score being so negligible that it's practically ineffective in enhancing the intended mood. It draws attention to a lot of the sounds here (a barking dog, footsteps, pounding, yelling), which become frequently annoying.

The screener disc for this review had no accessible menu. There is apparently a director's commentary, cast interviews and a trailer (the forced trailer that serves as the opening two minutes of the film's 80-minute run time spoils a lot of plot points).

Final Thoughts:
Don't get excited by the box cover citing a review that links this effort to Roman Polanski's The Tenant and Rosemary's Baby. The script dooms things from the start, making it impossible to care for the welfare of the lead character as he makes his way through this telegraphed thriller. Skip It.

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