Screened as part of NZIFF 2001
A warm-hearted and deeply pleasurable folktale from the Brazilian heartlands about Darlene de Lima Linhares (Regina Casé), a native woman persuaded to marry a local miserly loafer but self-determined enough to find love, lust and conception with a number of house guests. Casé’s powerful sexual magnetism has nothing to do with model looks and everything to do with healthy appetite. — Nick James, Sight & Sound, 7/00
When we first meet Darlene she is visibly pregnant and preparing to leave her home in a poor, dusty corner of Northeastern Brazil. ‘God prevent your having a daughter,’ her mother says by way of farewell. Three years later Darlene returns home on the day of her mother’s death, carrying her young son Dimas, the first of four she will bear, each with a different father, by the end of Me You Them. But if Darlene is promiscuous, she’s also faithful. Rather than move from one man to the next, she collects them into an unlikely but surprisingly practical ménage à quatre.
Me You Them, directed by Andrucha Waddington and inspired by a true story reported on Brazilian television, is itself an improbable mélange of rural neorealism, soap opera and sexual comedy. Its simple narrative of romantic complication unfolds gracefully and easily. The script, by Elena Soárez, nimbly avoids the traps of prurience or sentimentality. Mr Waddington’s direction is as seductive and sinuous as Gilberto Gil’s score, and Breno Silveira’s wide-screen cinematography makes gorgeous use of the natural light and expansive skies of Brazil’s sparsely populated backlands without making the landscape look overly pretty.
But the movie, like all the men in it, belongs to Darlene, or rather to Ms Casé, who radiates a full-bodied, mature sexuality not seen on film since love Italian style went out of fashion. Ms Casé, one of Brazil’s most popular television actresses, combines the seductiveness of Sophia Loren in the 1960s with the elemental, almost tragic maternalism of Anna Magnani in earlier decades…
Me You Them… is an unexpected delight, a film that weds the humor and magic of a folk tale with a very modern feel for the psychological dynamics between men and women and for the subtle politics of male rivalry in a macho culture. It has been made and acted with intelligence and evident love, which deserves to be requited. — A.O. Scott, NY Times, 2/3/01