I get the feeling while talking to Bernardo Bertolucci (and can we just take a moment to reflect that I am talking with Bernardo Bertolucci) that at seventy-three he is in re-discovery mode. For the past ten years he has been in a self-imposed exile, having encountered some health issues which have left him confined to a wheelchair. According to the Maestro, he fell into something of a depression but after being handed a copy of the novella Me and You by author Niccolò Ammaniti, he was inspired to get back to work and adapt the story to the screen. The outcome is a delightful tale about fear versus emotional risk-taking.
Me and You follows Roman teenager Lorenzo (Jacopo Olmo Antinori), who fakes going on a school ski trip, instead hiding out in his building’s basement so he may luxuriate in seclusion. His makeshift staycation is interrupted when his half sister Olivia (Tea Falco) shows up, causes havoc and makes it increasingly hard for him to block out the rest of the world. The film premiered at Cannes in 2012 where it played out of competition. It had a very successful theatrical run in Bertolucci’s Italy, where the director had not made a film in close to thirty years. The film will be arriving in New York on Friday, July 4th.
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I asked Bertolucci about working on a smaller scale after a career making such epics as The Conformist, The Last Emperor and The Sheltering Sky. He pointed out that he has a history of returning to a smaller scale with films such as The Grim Reaper, The Dreamers, and even Last Tango in Paris. He’s also begun experimenting shooting digitally and even hopes to make a 3D movie, which he experimented with and then rejected while making Me and You. And the good news is that he is very much planning future projects. Bertolucci is undeniably the remaining link to legendary filmmakers as de Sica, Rossellini, and his own mentor, Pier Paolo Pasolini. It’s a joy to see him back in top form.