The 72-year-old Bernardo Bertolucci, to judge from this skittish chamber-piece, seems to be hankering for the Nouvelle Vague on which he first coasted to fame.
It continues the spirit of mild transgression he indulged in his last movie, The Dreamers (2003). Lorenzo (Jacopo Olmo Antinori), a spotty, mop-haired, volatile 14-year-old, is at odds with the world. "I'm better off by myself," he says, before skipping the school skiing trip and hiding out in the basement lumber-room of his unsuspecting mother.
Here, he tends his colony of pet ants – much more fun than schoolmates – until his half-sister Olivia (Tea Falco) drops in, a glamorous twentysomething who has a heroin habit to kick. Bertolucci plots their relationship with tenderness, even a wistfulness, as the siblings trace in one another the affinities they have inherited from their father – their subterranean bolthole becomes a character-forming crucible
It's very slight, and pretty implausible – wouldn't Lorenzo's schoolteacher have noted his absence on that skiing trip? – but the two young actors commit to the roles with exuberant warmth.