Me and You (“Io e te” original Italian title, 2012)

Lorenzo and Olivia

Lorenzo and Olivia

Lorenzo(Jacopo Olmo Antinori) is just another teenager growing up in Rome but his mother does not think so.Like any modern teens he has issues, some of which stem from the fact that its his fathers second marriage. Lorenzo is seeing a shrink, looks like a man boy with a wispy stubble, piercing blue eyes and an unruly mop of curly hair.When he agrees to go on a school skiing  trip his mother is ecstatic that he is becoming somewhat social.They go to a restaurant for a farewell meal and Lorenzo wonders aloud if the people think they are a couple since his mother looks quite young.Then he pops a hypothetical question- what if all of humanity were destroyed by a deadly virus and only he and his mother remained on the planet, could they consider making babies to keep mankind from becoming extinct? Well, Lorenzo is that kind of a guy and Bernardo Bertolucci is that kind of a director.

Me and You is the new film from this iconic and iconoclastic director.This is a small and intimate film where most of the action takes place in the basement of Lorezoes home, he decides to skip the skiing trip and hole up alone in the basement for some quality me time.He answers his moms calls and gives her updates from an imaginary ski resort.Soon he is joined by his step sister Olivia(Tea Falco) who is older and has bigger problems than him.She appears out of nowhere, realizes she has nowhere to go, and decides to stay in the basement with Lorenzo, much to his annoyance.Olivia is a talented visual artist gone haywire on drugs, she tries to cold turkey in his basement and meets her much older man friends.These two confront each other with hostility, get used to each other and become siblings in a sense.She even pretends to be his math teacher in a memorable impersonation.Since this is a Bertolucci film there is always electric sexual tension in the air and the possibility of incest. If you have seen his very controversial The Dreamers(2003), you know what I mean, but here he retreats to more innocent ground.

Bernardo Bertolucci

Bernardo Bertolucci

It’s almost as if the basement is a vessel from which the gawky Lorenzo emerges transformed into a beautiful butterfly.The last shot will of course remind of Truffaut’s 1959 classic The 400 Blows, but while that freeze frame was famously open and somewhat pessimistic, Me and You ends on a cheerful life affirming note. How does Bertolucci know so much about youth?Lorenzo is not an Internet junkie, he is more interested in music and observing ants.Thats pretty old fashioned one might think but in Olivia he gives us a character that is more 21st century (an already passé terminology), and her angst seems more a product of the unlimited freedom that young people enjoy and become victim of.

Bartolucci has made films like Last Tango in Paris and The Last Emperor and his ambitions have almost always been matched by his ability to capture the political spirit of the times.In The Dreamers, his sexuality and nudity drenched youth saga in the student revolution of Paris in 1968, he staged a scene near the Cinematheque Francais, capturing the protest over the ouster of its legendary founder Henri Langlois.But in Me and You, the politics is in the background and the basic humanity of two good young people struggling with life in the foreground.

By the end of the film we care for both Lorenzo and Olivia and they care for each other.These actors are wonderful, they are so convincing in their roles and are cast so perfectly that there is never a false note in this nearly two hour film about two people in a basement.Yes, perhaps the viewing is made better with this icons name stamped on the film, but had this been made by a young director he would surely have been commended for knowing the pulse of youth in modern day Italy. Bertolucci is 73 years old now and this is his first film in 10 years. The metamorphosis of Lorenzo and Bertolucci’s mellowing make Me and You an act of reconciliation. The master is making his peace with the world.



Categories: World Cinema

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