Me You Them (Eu Tu Eres)


        As if to prove the maxim that truth is often stranger than fiction, the Brazilian film selected
to represent the country in the 2000 Oscar derby,
Me You Them, is rooted in reality. After seeing
local TV stations reported on a woman who had been living for a decade with three husbands in
a rural province of the country, screenwriter Elena Soárez  found inspiration for this charming
comedy-drama.

        In this version, expertly directed by rising talent Andrucha Waddington, the heroine is Darlene
(played with great fervor by stage star Regina Case), a contemporary, liberated woman who as the
film opens is very pregnant and about to be married. Unfortunately for her, the wedding doesn't
quite go as she expects, forcing her to leave the small town in which she was raised. After a
three-year absence, Darlene return with her son and catches the eye of the elderly Osias (Lima
Duarte), prompting him to propose marriage. Without many prospects and thinking he's a good
catch, she accepts. His idea of wedded bliss, however, consists mostly of him lolling in a hammock
while Darlene does all the work. She becomes pregnant again (the film hints that the child's father
may not be her husband) and becoming frustrated juggling two kids and all the other responsibilities,
she flees. Osias follows her and makes her return but Darlene also has made a heartbreaking
decision that is ultimately for the betterment of her eldest.

        When Osias' mother dies, his cousin Zezinho (Stenio Garcia) moves in with the couple, lending
a hand in the kitchen and watching over the baby. He clearly is attracted to his cousin's wife and she
welcomes -- indeed encourages -- his attentions. The fertile Darlene soon finds herself pregnant with
Zezinho's son.

        Their odd family, held together by Darlene's spirit and will, expands when she finds herself
attracted to Ciro (Luis Carlos Vasconcelos), a drifter who is working alongside her in the cane fields.
While the other men barely conceal their jealousy, they all manage to find a common ground and opt
to live together as an unconventional family unit.

        Waddington, who made a fine debut with
Gêmeas (1999) that featured the mother-daughter
team of Fernanda Montenegro and Fernanda Torres (off screen, Mrs. Waddington), originally made
his mark directing commercials and music videos. Unlike American helmers who have followed a
similar route, Waddington eschews fancy pyrotechnics and swift editing to allow the film a more
languid tone. One might argue that
Me You Them could perhaps use a small infusion of MTV-style
editing but this director trusts the material to unfold at the pace it requires. Darlene is a woman
who cannot be hurried and the film that contains her must reflect this.

        Leading lady Regina Case may not be a ravishing beauty, but she has a fine, earthy quality
that recalls the late Italian star Anna Magnani. She somewhat resembles actress Frances
McDormand and like McDormand, depending on the camera angle can look handsome or beautiful.
Case is the soul of the film and her superb work as Darlene anchors the film. The actors playing
opposite her are all equal to the challenge, but it is Ms. Case's showcase.

        While the Academy may not have found
Me You Them worthy of Oscar consideration, audiences
will enjoy this tale of an anomalous family unit.


                                                Rating:                        B+
                                                MPAA Rating:           PG-13  for sexuality and thematic content
                                                Running time:            112 mins.
© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.