At last year’s Venice Film Festival I was fortunate enough to be in the audience when 74-year-old Bernardo Bertolucci presented Marco Bellocchio with the Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award; it was a thrill to see the famous directors in person but also a surprise. Bertolucci, the man who gave us Last Tango in Paris and The Last Emperor entered the stage wheelchair bound on account of severe back problems and looked a little frail.
Was this ceremony, with one great director celebrating another about more than just awards? Was a figurative torch being passed? Was it over for Bertolucci, the director?
As it turns out, it was not, and his new Io e Te, Me and You will not even be his last film. Bertolucci is said to be working on a historical romance centering on 16th-century classical musician Carlo Gesualdo.
Io e Te, in Italian movie theaters right now, is another Bertolucci film that will SPOILER ALERT – leave us hanging a bit. “”I don’t film messages. I let the post office take care of those.” And while some critics have complained that it doesn’t pack the punch that most of his films have, the film, made mostly in a single room, was a good choice a director in a wheelchair.
Io e Te premiered at Cannes and is the story of a 14-year-old anti-social boy who tells his mother that he is going on a school ski trip and then retreats to his apartment building’s basement to hide out. There, his peace and quiet is broken when his step-sister, strung out on heroin, shows up in need of help.
Io e Te is Bertolucci’s first Italian language film in 30 years, working mostly on English language films like The Last Emperor, for which he received two Oscars. (The film earned 9 Academy Awards all together). Among his dozens of other awards is last year’s honorary Palme d’Or at Cannes.