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article imageReview: It all boils down to ‘Me and You’ Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 26, 2014 in Entertainment
Oscar-winning director Bernardo Bertolucci ends a 10-year hiatus with a stimulating portrait of damaged youth in ‘Me and You.’
Nearly a decade after he swept audiences up into the passionate affairs of The Dreamers, Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci returns behind the camera for the first time since being confined to a wheelchair for yet another drama about youth. The siblings in this picture are not as close as their predecessors, though their relationship is still peculiar and their individual issues could use some attention. But in Me and You, for one week they are all each other has on which to rely.
To say Lorenzo (Jacopo Olmo Antinori) is an introvert is a bit of an understatement. Conversations elude to other behavioural problems and he's just generally strange, which is demonstrated when he asks questions about a hypothetical situation that would require he and his mother have sex. Therefore his parents are ecstatic when he requests permission to attend a week-long school ski trip, interpreting it as a sign of improvement. Instead Lorenzo uses the money to buy enough supplies to sustain him for a week while he secretly lives beyond the reach of the pressures to be a normal teen, alone in his building’s basement. Unfortunately his plan is jeopardized when his worldly, estranged half-sister Olivia (Tea Falco) turns up and discovers his sanctuary. In exchange for her silence, she demands he share his lair while she goes "cold turkey."
Forget about identifying with these siblings. Their overall circumstances and personalities are not about to win over audiences. Moreover, they're not exactly easy to empathize with either. While it's clear Lorenzo has certain behavior problems, it's also obvious he sometimes exploits these issues to get what he wants. Similarly, Olivia is manipulative and shows little concern for the effect her situation could have on her brother. Bertolucci isn't especially worried about the viewer's connections with the characters. Instead, he appears to just focus on trying to tell this story of an unconventional family dynamic.
Once again most of the film is restricted to a single location, yet the space is never exactly the same in more than one scene. Though the basement is a treasure trove of boxes and forgotten items, little time is spent exploring its contents unless searching for something of specific use. The secluded, dark cellar is mostly a functional setting for the narrative. Outside of a book (a copy of “The Vampire Lestat”), his digital music collection, laptop and an ant farm, it's not even revealed how Lorenzo passes the many waking hours of each day as Olivia hides away with her misery or tries to sleep through the worst of her withdrawal.
Still, it is a well-executed picture that appeals in ways that goes beyond the likability of its characters. Lorenzo's eccentricities are intriguing, particularly in how it affects his interactions with Olivia versus his mother. In being forced to care for his sister, he is also required to occasionally view and interact with the world from her perspective. Ignoring the customary call for closure, the fate of Olivia and the significances of Lorenzo's retreat are never revealed.
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Starring: Tea Falco, Jacopo Olmo Antinori and Sonia Bergamasco
More about Review, Me and You, Bernardo Bertolucci, Jacopo Olmo Antinori, Tea Falco
 
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