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August 01, 2017

Me & You

io e te.jpg

Io e te
Bernardo Bertolucci - 2012
Artificial Eye BD Region B

Is this the last film by Bernardo Bertolucci? It certainly looks that way. And yes, after a career with such high points as The Conformist and Last Tango in Paris, and even films with momentary charms as The Dreamers, Me & You is especially disappointing. From a commercial viewpoint, I understand why the film never got a stateside release. Still, it's a film by one of the greatest living film directors, deserving of a home video release that one esteemed company had promised, but never delivered. As one who has followed Bertolucci's career since the time that Before the Revolution had played in New York City, it seemed like my best option would be to get the British blu-ray while that was still available.

There's not much to the story - a high school boy decides to ditch a school ski trip by secretly spending the week in the basement storage room of the apartment building in a residential part of of Rome. His half-sister (same father) barges in, looking for shelter to go cold turkey from her heroin addiction. Starting off as antagonists, the two eventually become co-conspirators within the dark, enclosed space.

The recognizable themes from past Bertolucci films are visible with the aforementioned set-up of the two characters mostly shut off from the outside world, the hints of incest, centering the narrative on youthful characters, especially a young man who seems in a state of constant rebellion against the world. The film was adapted from a novel by Niccolo Ammaniti, who also contributed to the screenplay. I'm not familiar with the novel but assuming that the film is relatively faithful to the source, it's as if the novelist was writing with Bertolucci in mind. Sadly, there are no breathtaking images or even electric moments such as when Matthew Barry starts dancing to the music of the BeeGees in La Luna. The brother and sister dance to the Italian version of David Bowie's "Space Oddity", with the lyrics re-written as "Lonely Boy, Lonely Girl", but the moment is unaffecting. What comes across is as if the master filmmaker was making an imitation Bertolucci film.

What is best about the blu-ray is the supplement. This is no ordinary "Making of . . ." featurette. Bertolucci has been confined to a wheelchair since 2003, about the same time that his previous film, The Dreamers was released. The supplement documents in part Bertolucci's return to filmmaking and how he has worked in spite of his physical limitations. Debra Winger and Richard Gere are among the visitors to the set. The supplement starts off with Bertolucci at the Venice Film Festival prior to filming, telling the story of a confused admirer who told Bertolucci that he had been following his career since Fists in his Pocket, with that film's actual director, Marco Bellochio, receiving an award from his contemporary and peer.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at August 1, 2017 06:15 AM