I Love You Both is like a slow motion train wreck of dysfunction, codependency, and existential crisis coupled with an unchecked white privilege festival. I have very mixed feelings about it. Watching the film made me feel very uncomfortable, but I’m not sure whether that was intentional or not on the part of the director. If the film is supposed to be a cautionary tale, then it did its job well. But I’ve seen it referred to as a romantic comedy and I personally did not find the film the least bit funny at all.
I Love You Both tells the story of two fraternal twins, Krystal (KRISTIN ARCHIBALD) and Donny (DOUG ARCHIBALD), who live together despite being in their late 20s, and then both end up trying to date the same man, Andy (Lucas Neff). On the one hand, I love the depiction of bisexuality as normal. Upon meeting Andy, Krystal asks a friend whether he has a girlfriend or a boyfriend, as if she would ask that question of anyone. Which is how it should be. On the other hand, it’s hard to understand why this supposedly nice guy is okay with siblings working out their codependency issues on him? So not necessarily a great representation of bisexuality, either.
I Love You Both also captures the essence of what is now known as the quarter life crisis perfectly. What artist among us can’t relate to Krystal, stuck in a tech industry job she hates but afraid to take the plunge into more creative endeavors. Or Donny, who wants to be a musician but is stuck teaching ungrateful children piano lessons? The only problem is that Krystal works for the family business and both siblings’ lives are being subsidized by their parents. There is a scene where Krystal’s mother says she would pay for anything Krystal wanted to do. As a broke artist struggling to pay the rent, this is infuriating. Money is one of the only obstacles keeping me from achieving my dreams. If I had someone to subsidize my passions, there is nothing that could stop me. I wouldn’t just be moping around my giant apartment drinking an entire bottle of wine in one sitting and feeling sorry for myself. It’s hard to relate to these characters in a lot of ways because they are so unaware of all the privileges and great things they have going on for them. Both characters are somewhat narcissistic, and neither twin really seems to have a social life outside of the other.
I have trouble liking I Love You Both for the same reason I struggle to like RENT. The main characters are a bunch of young, entitled, rich snobs who could have anything they wanted but choose instead to complain about how difficult their lives are instead of actually getting up and doing something about it. They have the means, but not the will to make their lives better. Like I said it’s hard for me to understand what is actually attractive about either twin. Krystal’s self-absorbed ex makes more sense to me than just a normal nice guy like Andy falling for someone like that.
Upon realizing that the writers of the film are actually siblings and also play the twins in the film, it makes sense that it feels very internally motivated. The film revolves around Krystal and Donny the way they believe the world revolves around them. The audience gets to know very little about these other characters, except through the lens of how the twins perceive them. Artemis Pebdani (Scandal) as Krystal’s co-worker Linda is one of the high points of the film for me, and really the only comedic element I can see. She at least brings some life and energy to an otherwise lethargic and introspective film.
I am honestly on the fence about whether or not I would recommend I Love You Both. On the one hand, if the film is supposed to be a romantic comedy, it is certainly a fresh and queer take on the genre. On the other hand, aren’t we as a culture past all of these stories about the lives of the 1%? The vast majority of LGBTQ individuals are not economically privileged, and I would much rather see a film which explores the lives of people like me and the types of people I care about and interact with on a daily basis. I have a hard time empathizing with rich people who can’t be bothered to use the vast resources they have at their disposal to help make the world a better place – and doubly so for rich queer people who could be doing so much for the underprivileged in our community. But who knows? Maybe I’m just bitter.
If you decide to see I Love You Both, it will screen on Saturday, September 10 at 1pm at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar as a part of the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival.