"Me You Them" with Regina Case, Lima Duarte, Stenio Garcia. Directed by Andrucha Waddignton. Written by Elena Soarez. Rated: PG-13, for some language, sexuality. In Portuguese with subtitles. In Missoula (New Crystal). THREE STARS
This Brazilian movie gives us what no American movie will: ambiguity. In its quiet way, "Me You Them" creeps toward something unnamed when we are so used to all things named, something subtly disconcerting when we are addicted to the obvious, scenes of almost complete silence when we depend on sitcom-shaped dialogue. It takes a while to get comfortable with "Me You Them," a settling period to understand just how this elliptical film works.
Darlene, pregnant and in a wedding dress, leaves her mother's house. Perhaps she has been exiled, perhaps she has waited for this chance. She sets off on mule back in the early morning sun, the dry northeastern Brazil landscape empty and quiet except for her lone figure. That wedding dress signals promise and change.
Neither comes. Darlene is abandoned by her invisible intended, and we next see her three years on, when she returns with her child to the tiny outpost of houses. Osias, an older neighbor, pursues her for marriage, and because he has a real house and says he likes her boy, Darlene agrees, only to find herself his unpaid servant. She works cutting cane in the fields 12 hours a day, then comes home to prepare food and do the chores her husband is too lazy to do.
Darlene is magnetic with her insistent maternal sexiness, her forthright smile, her powerful spirit; and anyone who encounters her knows it. She finds love, compassion, acceptance and pleasure in the hearts and arms of a series of men, most of whom end up living under the same roof with her, her husband and her growing number of multi-fathered children. "Me You Them" never really describes anything, certainly never gives us a chance to judge Darlene. The movie lays out the events in cool tones, contrasted with Brazil's baking heat and the magnificent yellow-gold photography. We are left to form our private opinions, imagine ourselves in such a situation. We are left with ambiguity, which is almost too much to bear.