Me & You

Bertolucci is a past master.  One need not worry about camera setups or poorly scripted narratives with this maestro.  But it has been some time since Bernardo set about making a film.  His last major film-film, before Me & You, was in 1996 (Stealing Beauty).

But, at 73 or so, he has produced a surprising yet lapidary film: intimate, charming, unexpected.

Lorenzo (a believable Jacopo Olmo Antinori), a 14-year-old in Rome, decides he won’t be hassled by going on a class skiing trip.  Instead, he stocks up on food and drink, linens, and electronics, and goes down to his own basement, where his mother has no idea he is hiding out without the necessity to answer to her or teachers.  He calls occasionally from his cell to lie to his mother about the snow and the group’s activities.  The fly in his ointment arrives in the person of his older half-sister, Olivia (Tea Falco, also quite good), who is sick with trying to kick her heroin habit.  He doesn’t cotton to sharing his private week with this all-but-stranger, but she won’t leave.

It is unusual to have a protagonist with troubled skin as well as a troubled emotional trajectory.  We get close-ups of Lorenzo’s unfortunate skin, which compares unfavorably with his sister’s  more adult face and figure.

As the days and nights unroll, Lorenzo slowly realizes he is not alone – that his vomiting, wracked sister from another mother needs his care and attentions.  She smokes heavily.  She drinks.  She keeps taking drugs.  But he comes ‘round, and surprisingly, the two reach a sweet and siblingly accommodation much like the love they have never before known, as they were brought up apart.  Lorenzo learns family secrets that put a different spin on his own spoiled self-regard and egoism.

There are charming rumbles, elements of constant surprise, people nearly seeing them, petit larceny of various comestibles, drugs, and drink.  Quirky characters appear for a lap or two.

All in all, though, a self-contained, winning tale, easy to swallow, always intriguing to watch, constantly producing small but rewarding aperçus.  Best, it’s not so saccharine you lose your fillings.  "Stealing time" for Bertolucci pays off.