Cast: Jacopo Olmo Antinori, Tea Falco, Sonia Bergamasco
Running time: 2012
The lowdown: Bernardo Bertolucci’s first film in Italian for 30 years is a gem, bursting with the vibrancy of 1960s and 70s European cinema. Jacopo Olmo Antinori is the surly 14-year-old Lorenzo who skips a school skiing trip to hide out in his building’s basement. But, seven days of nothing turn into an unexpectedly emotional journey when Lorenzo’s half-sister Olivia (Tea Falco) shows up looking for a place to crash. What threatens to be another mopey-teen flick from a filmmaker well past his flush of youth becomes a rewarding, moving story of sibling affection.
The full verdict: Director Bertolucci’s last film was 2003’s The Dreamers, a dire, creepy account of teen lust set against the backdrop of Paris’ 1968 student riots that seemingly existed solely to ogle Eva Green’s breasts.
Me and You is a warmer, smaller, and richer affair. Alienated youth is well-trod ground, but Bertolucci finds new reasons to tell the tale in protagonist Lorenzo; perpetually plugged into his iPod and laptop, apolitical (unlike the protagonists of the director’s other movies) and unable to connect with his all-surface, little substance mum (Bergamasco) and often-discussed though never seen dad.
As watchable as Antinori is, Bertolucci (and three co-writers, including the source novel’s Niccolo Ammaniti) wisely open the film up quickly with the arrival of Olivia.
Damaged, but wiser than her kid brother, the strung-out Olivia is the perfect, high-volume foil to her sullen, taciturn sibling. But, Falco injects real vulnerability into what could have been a screechy, one-note character, developing throughout the film as she reveals home truths to the callow Lorenzo.
Small-scale to be sure, with the wheelchair bound, 73-year-old Bertolucci largely confining the action to the basement setting, but the light touch, humour and joyful fizz of being young froth up off the screen.
Add to this a great use of David Bowie’s Italian version of Space Oddity (Ragazzo Solo, Ragazzo Sola) and a final shot that echoes the close of Francois Truffaut’s The 400 Blows and this is a nice swansong should Bertolucci decide to hang up his viewfinder.