Me and You (Io e te)
Bernardo Bertolucci's family drama is a minor triumph, starring Jacopo Olmo Antinori and Tea Falco
Bernardo Bertolucci probably never expected to direct another feature film which is why the mere existence of Me and You is a minor triumph. Plagued by ill health over the past decade and now confined to a wheelchair, the director of Last Tango In Paris and The Last Emperor returns with a modest but absorbing adaptation of the Niccolo Ammantini novel Io e Te. The story of a lost, angry teenager fits the fascination with adolescence and the loss of innocence that have been recurring themes throughout Bertolucci's fifty year career. The lead characters have little of the passion or idealism of Fabrizio in Before The Revolution (1964) or any affinity with the giddy observers of the events of May 1968 in The Dreamers (2003). Instead, they are very much 21st century figures; cowed, damaged and wary of the world.
Fourteen year-old Fabrizio (Jacopo Olmo Antinori) is so desperate to be left alone that he lies to his mother about attending a school skiing trip. He arms himself with enough provisions for a week and hunkers down in the basement. His solitude is rudely interrupted by the arrival of his half-sister Olivia (Tea Falco), a once promising photographer now hooked on heroin and hoping to make a fresh start.
Fluidly photographed and edited to avoid the claustrophobia of their basement encounter, the film lets the characters air their grievances about the failings of their mutual father and respective mothers whilst also allowing them to find common ground. There is little of the melodrama or emotional fireworks that might have been predicted, just a quiet, thoughtful exploration of individuals trying to find a path of possibilities through the minefield of the modern world. It may not be Bertolucci's most dynamic film but the quiet sense of hope that he finds makes it an unexpectedly poignant chamber work.
Limited release from Fri 19 Apr.