If this does turn out to be the last film from noted Italian auteur Bernardo Bertolucci, then his career will be coming to a close with a bit more of a whimper than a bang. Strangely off kilter by Bertolucci standards despite taking place almost entirely in a single location, the oedipal coming of age drama Me and You disappoints mostly because it feels like it could have been made by anyone and it would have been just as slight and forgettable. It could work on stage, probably, but even then it’s narrative voice rarely rises above a dull, mumbling roar.
14 year old Lorenzo (Jacopo Olmo Antinori) tells his overbearing mother that he’s going on a ski trip, but he’s really going to just hang out in his basement for a week to clear his head. His week of solitude is shattered by the unwanted arrival of his junkie half-sister, Olivia (Tea Falco). She’s 25 and the two don’t necessarily get along, but they eventually realize through their time together that they have more in common than they originally thought.
Antinori and Falco are a formidable pair, and maybe in a better film this dynamic could be better explored outside of some surface level hypothesizing and psychoanalyzing of their behaviours. Sure, the sexual dynamics that Bertolucci has made a hallmark of his career are on display here, but they don’t add very much. Quite curiously the movie comes across as a lot more square than daring, with Bertolucci coming across as incapable of understanding how modern teens interact and talk with others. He can cover for this lack of understanding all he wants with a hip soundtrack with Bowie covers and Arcade Fire tracks, but instead of an organic tale of two exhausted young people trying to get their lives in order, it reeks of a kind of stressful effort on the part of the filmmaker. Kudos are in order for finally casting people who look their parts instead of casting for beauty, but that’s about all that’s really different about Bertolucci’s work here.
It’s far from an awful film, but a messy one that should have been a chip shot for one of the world’s greatest filmmakers. Strangely this could have been a killer film in the hands of a younger, hipper filmmaker who could actually unpack some modern meaning from this instead of coming from someone who only seems to have an understanding of his own greatest hits.