Me, You and Us (Un enfant de toi): Rome Review
Lou Doillon and Samuel Benchetrit star in Jacques Doillon's Rome competition premiere.
ROME -- A mildly involving drama where two guys and a girl spend a lot more time talking about sex than actually doing it, You, Me and Us (Un enfant de toi) is a minor addition to the otherwise admirable filmography of cineaste Jacques Doillon.
Starring the belle It-girl Lou Doillon as a young mother caught between her former lover and current boyfriend, this overextended and rather self-serious gabfest is French to a fault, and will therefore work best on local screens where the cast can still attract a certain crowd. Overseas stints should include Euro territories and Gallic film weeks, with small-scale distribution possible in places of high Francophile concentration.
Aya (Doillon) is the carefree, somewhat taciturn mother of the clever, straight-talking 7-year-old, Lina (Olga Milshtein). It’s already been three years since Aya and Lina’s father, Louis (Samuel Benchetrit), called it quits, although that doesn’t seem to stop them from spending inordinate amounts of time together, much to the chagrin of Aya’s actual beau, Victor (Malik Zidi), who she’s planning to have a baby with.
Set in a series of semi-chic apartments and empty streets (the film was shot in the medium-size city of Tours), the action plays out in a series of lengthy and theatrical tête-à-tête’s where the heavily written dialogues clearly take precedence over drama. It’s like an Eric Rohmer movie sans humor or structural inventiveness, and as the threesome seduces and squabbles themselves into a 138-minute tizzy, the emotional impact of the narrative is greatly reduced, even if there’s an underlying interest as to which man Aya will ultimately choose.
A former documentary filmmaker, Doillon has directed several masterly movies about Gallic youth – including 1974’s Touched in the Head and 1990’s The Little Gangster – but he’s taken a turn for the self-indulgent as of late, with 2010’s stuffy chamber piece, The Three-Way Wedding, and now this equally loquacious affair.
The fact this his own daughter – a popular model, actress and singer (she released her first album last summer; her mother is singer-actress Jane Birkin) – is cast here opposite celebrity hipster Benchetrit (director of Sundance prize winner I Always Wanted to Be a Gangster and actual ex-b.f. of Doillon fille) lends the whole project an insider’s air, making it hard to believe in the characters, who we otherwise learn next-to-nothing about beyond their endless opinions on sex, love and relationships.
More convincing is the ever-intense Zidi (Water Drops on Burning Rocks), whose Victor is often the only one in the room not over-dramatizing every word he says. Likewise, newcomer Milshtein offers up the kind of naturalistic performance that marked Doillon’s memorable kids flick, Ponette, and there are moments when the little Lina makes the adults around her look like the true children in this stagy three-way romance.
Venue: Rome Film Festival (competing)
Production companies: 4 A 4 Productions
Cast: Lou Doillon, Samuel Benchetrit, Malik Zidi, Marilyne Fontaine, Olga Milshtein
Director, screenwriter: Jacques Doillon
Producers: Mani Mortazavi, David Mathieu-Mahias
Directors of photography: Renato Berta, Laurent Chalet
Production designer: Patrick Colpaert
Editor: Frédéric Fichefet
Sales: Doc & Film International
No rating, 138 minutes