Me You Them

(Eu Tu Eles, Andrucha Waddington, Brazil, 2000)


We see precious little Brazilian cinema in Australia, and what we do get is a highly filtered selection.

Me You Them conforms to the apolitical, "tough love" style of comedy-drama with which we are familiar from the work of Hector Babenco or Walter Salles (both of whom are thanked in the credits). Almost obligatorily, it has a terrific soundtrack (primarily of songs by Gilberto Gil).

Darlene (Regina Casé) is an earthy woman whose first disappointment in love – left waiting at the wedding altar, pregnant – spurs her into adopting a quietly defiant, progressive lifestyle. She agrees to marry the older Osias (Lima Duarte) but, as the years go by, manages to incorporate into the household two other guys, Zezhino (Stênio Garcia) and Ciro (Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos), with whom she has children.

There is very little social context around this group. Detached, they form both a family and a community, gently coping with the ongoing scandal of their unconventional arrangement. Small changes to the internal dynamic – such as when the seemingly passive Osias decides to take charge – perk up the plot. It is a pity we never really learn how the four children of this community process these events.

Films about a female free spirit who simultaneously loves several men (Arthur Penn's Four Friends [1980] is the best of them) possess a curious pathos. They tend to culminate in the moment when a man watches his partner making love to another – and learns the necessity to renounce his possessive, egoistic ways. Elena Soàrez's script explores this theme all the way to a strangely ambiguous conclusion.

Within its own modest terms, Me You Them is a good film. Casé is a splendid screen presence, and the men around her project various comic degrees of perplexity, delight and exasperation.

Andrucha Waddington's direction creates an intriguing tension from small, wordless interactions, and respects the humanity of even the least likeable characters, such as Osias' gruff sister, Raquel (Nilda Spencer).

© Adrian Martin November 2001

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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