The Austin Chronicle

Me You Them

Rated PG-13, 104 min. Directed by Andrucha Waddington. Starring Nilda Spencer, Luis Carlos Vasconcelos, Stênio Garcia, Lima Duarte, Regina Casé.

REVIEWED By Marrit Ingman, Fri., April 13, 2001

Funny how the title Me You Them (Eu, Tu, Eles) calls to mind 1968's Yours, Mine, and Ours, the family farce that spawned TV's The Brady Bunch. Both films are good-natured dramedies about atypical domestic situations. And both are perfectly characteristic of their cultures: Yours, Mine, and Ours twinkles with a fundamentally American ebullience, while the languidly charming Me You Them is expressive of the easygoing pragmatism of rural Brazil. Scribe Elena Soárez based her screenplay on the story of a woman from the flyspeck village of Quixêlo who shared her modest adobe house with three husbands -- acquired in succession -- and various subsequent children. On film, that woman is the estimable Darlene de Lima Linhares (Casé), a field worker with a zest for life, love, and dancing. Rebuffed by the colonel who sired her first son, Darlene enters into a practical marriage with her saturnine, much-older neighbor Osias (Duarte), whose house is the envy of the meager village. Soon, Zezinho (Garcia), Osias' affectionate and domestically inclined cousin, is bringing Darlene hot lunches in the field and sharing her hammock at night. Finally, a studmuffiny itinerant laborer (Vasconcelos) arrives to complete the household -- but will he stay? A prune-faced relative (Spencer) periodically reminds the group that “people will talk,” but the filmmakers are delighted and amused by the situation, allowing the emotional and romantic complications to unfold naturally. Even Osias, who's a bit of a boor, is treated with good humor and sympathy, as Darlene sensibly maintains a gentle upper hand with each of her men. The film probably won't draw in audiences who aren't already fans of the quirky, subtitled pastoral, but it's more than worth a look. Casé has an earthy, beguiling screen presence, and Breno Silveira's artful, often static and wide camera compositions are like living paintings, rich with light and color. Also of note is the soundtrack of original songs by Gilberto Gil, which is prominent but not overpowering.

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