ME AND YOU - Bernardo Bertolucci *Closing Night Selection
The reason there hasn't been a new Bertolucci film for more than ten years was because the now 72-year-old master has been having health problems. His bad back led to multiple surgeries and, ultimately left him wheelchair-bound. Me and You, his new film, directed from his wheelchair is a simple, affecting story of a 14-year old loner and his older junkie sister bonding over the course of a week, trapped in the basement of their parent's apartment building.
The film is unexpectedly sweet. Sure, there is a bit of Bertolucci's usual sexual innuendos/brashness but skin is kept to a bare minimum. Lorenzo (Jacopo Olmo Antinori), a pimply young Malcolm McDowell lookalike fakes a school ski trip to get away from the world and his overbearing mom into the stuffy basement. He gets provisions (junk food) for a week, brings his computer, music and a freshly purchased ant farm for entertainment. But his peace is suddenly interrupted by his twenty something half-sister Olivia (sultry Tea Falco). She is heading up to the countryside to her friend/lover's, but first, she needs a place to crash in Rome to clean up her drug habits. Since she hates his mom, she blackmails Lorenzo to let her stay in his escape pad. Bertolucci uses a confined space effectively: the tiny shared space forces the siblings to bond and share intimate moments. Seeing these slightly drawn characters portrayed by not-too-pretty unknowns is refreshing in the world saturated with cookie-cutter pretty young thangs on TV.
If concentrating on youth reinvigorated Bertolucci to direct again despite his conditions and the result is this good, I am all for his future endeavors. The great soundtrack starts with The Cure's Boys Don't Cry and ends with Bowie's Space Oddity.