By Don Simpson | November 18, 2010
Directors: Antonio Naharro, Álvaro Pastor
Writers: Antonio Naharro, Álvaro Pastor
Starring: Pablo Pineda, Lola Dueñas, Isabel García Lorca, Daniel Parejo, Lourdes Naharro
At 34-years of age, Daniel (Pablo Pineda) is the first student with Down syndrome to obtain a university degree in Europe. After graduation, Daniel is hired by the Disability Services office of Seville, Spain; it is his first job — and just another rung on Daniel’s ladder to normalcy. Daniel almost immediately starts working on the next rung, marriage, after landing the job, falling for a chain-smoking and boozy peroxide blond co-worker named Laura (Lola Dueñas). The question remains, can a “normal” woman fall in love with a man with Down syndrome? Or should Daniel just “Fall in love with women [he] can get”?
Daniel explains at one point during the film that he has advanced beyond most individuals with Down syndrome because his mother (Isabel García Lorca) started talking to him at a very early age; as Daniel grew older his mother realized that he was actually understanding her and they began having discussions about philosophy, politics, etc. (Daniel’s parents are intellectuals who love and trust him implicitly.) Eventually Daniel was assimilated into Seville’s school system and progressed all the way to and through college.
Raised, essentially, as a “normal” person, Daniel is unsure of where his normalcy ends. How assimilated into Spanish society can he possibly become? Is normalcy something that is worth aspiring to? (When Daniel confesses to Laura that he wants to be her boyfriend because she makes him “feel normal,” Laura retorts “Why would you want to be normal?”) Is Laura — a nymphomaniac who abandoned her family for undisclosed reasons — any more normal than Daniel?
Me, Too also features a very intriguing subplot, a love story between Down syndrome lovers Pedro (Daniel Parejo) and Luisa (Lourdes Naharro). Should they be allowed to date? To marry? Most importantly — to have sex?
It is definitely worth noting that Pineda — like Daniel — is the first student with Down syndrome in Europe to obtain a university degree, so he is essentially playing a fictionalized version of himself in Me, Too. Pineda’s heart-wrenching performance as Daniel is nothing short of amazing.
Me, Too turns the popular understanding of Down syndrome on its head. Co-writers and directors Antonio Naharro and Álvaro Pastor effectively question the presumed abnormalcy of people with Down syndrome all the while pondering whether normalcy is all it is cracked up to be. As a society we might be able to root for Daniel’s quest for normalcy, but are we comfortable with the possibility of Daniel becoming more than just friends with Laura? And how does that differ from Pedro and Luisa’s relationship? Is there a line to be drawn? If so, where do we draw it? With a college diploma?
For better or worse, I continuously pondered throughout the course of Me, Too whether or not a film like this could ever be created in Hollywood. Is the United States ready to accept a “normal” Down syndrome lead character? More importantly, how receptive are audiences in the United States going to be to Me, Too? This is a groundbreaking film and I really hope that audiences at least give it a chance.