Bernardo Bertolucci shows Cannes he’s still a force to be reckoned with
Guardian.co.uk – by Peter Bradshaw
The spirit of the new wave is revived (albeit in apolitical form) by the 72-year-old Bernardo Bertolucci in his new film, a slight but engaging two-hander showing out of competition in Cannes. It’s an intimate, disorientating and highly charged encounter between a young man and an older woman, who find themselves having to share a cramped basement flat which they cannot leave for one week. There are resonances with the director’s The Dreamers, his adaptation of Gilbert Adair’s novel, and perhaps even with Last Tango In Paris.
Lorenzo, played by Jacopo Olmo Antinori, is a disturbed 14-year-old boy who hates school, and whose mother Arianna (Sonia Bergamasco) sends him to a psychotherapist. Mother and son lunch together at restaurants, where Lorenzo speculates, inappropriately, as to whether other people there think they are a couple, and asks her what they should do to repopulate the Earth if they were the only two people left after some sort of apocalyptic catastrophe. Sonia is relieved when Lorenzo shows an interest in going on a week’s ski-ing trip organised by his school – but instead of getting on the bus, Lorenzo sneaks back and hides out in the house’s manky basement to which he has the separate entrance key, glad of the chance to be on his own for a week. But he is horrified when his twentysomething half-sister, Olivia (Tea Falco) shows up, needing a place to stay. Falco’s Olivia fascinates and horrifies Lorenzo with her attitude problem, her smack addiction, her artistic aspirations, and some dark hints about her (and Lorenzo’s) father.
Bertolucci, and his actors Antinori and Falco, sketch out the growing and touching relationship that develops between the pair: not quite friends, not lovers, perhaps not even siblings exactly – but strange allies against all the unhappiness that this world can throw at them. There is a great moment when Olivia starts singing along to David Bowie‘s rewritten Italian version of Space Oddity, Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola (Lonely Boy, Lonely Girl), and somehow this music contributes to the sense that, though sharp and lively, this 2012 movie could have been made 40 years ago. The final freezeframe is perhaps a nod to Truffaut, although the ending as a whole is maybe a little rushed. Bertolucci’s witty, potent little film showed Cannes that he is still a force to be reckoned with.