After nine years, maestro Bertolucci is back. Returning to the hermetic environments that made his prior two films The Dreamers (2003) and Besieged (1998) so memorable, his latest is a brother-and-sister tale that takes place predominantly in a basement storage area. Fourteen-year-old Lorenzo is a deeply antisocial boy whose mother sends him to therapy. When he pretends enthusiasm for an upcoming school ski trip, his mom gives him spending money and he goes out shopping for supplies. Rather than sundries for the slopes, however, Lorenzo stocks up on junk food, looking forward to a week alone in the basement of the building where he lives. His “staycation” dream is foiled, though, when his turbulent half-sister Olivia shows up seeking a place to kick her heroin habit. Fantasies of being “home alone” with his glamorous, semi-famous sibling quickly curdle as Lorenzo must contend with secrets from her past. As the two attempt to come to terms with their fractured family upbringing, they try find a way out of their respectively maladjusted lives. If the Berlusconi era is partly to blame, Bertolucci keeps that on a purely suggestive level, though he’s stated in an interview that the former prime minister “anaesthetized the brains of young people.” Based on a novel of the same title by Italian author Niccolò Ammaniti and featuring vivid production design revealing the cast-off belongings of the building’s various residents past and present, a great soundtrack (David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” plays an important role) and graceful performances by newcomers Jacopo Olmo Antinori and Tea Falco, Me and You details the turbulence of youth with all the expertise we have come to expect from this master filmmaker.
- Rod Armstrong