Some of Me
Plain facts are as unappealing as pink lipstick to Isabella Rossellini. ”I lie. I always did,” she announces provocatively at the start of Some of Me, a fascinating, coy, amusing, revealing, loose-screw collection of riffs about her life as a model/actress/celebrity/daughter of actress Ingrid Bergman and director Roberto Rossellini.
Well, good for her! I’d much rather hear colorful untruths boldly spun than the allegedly honest stories of celebrity autobiographers that feel about as real as a pair of Hollywood breasts. Besides, we’re talking about Isabella Rossellini here — not exactly the most uncomplicated girl on the block: Face of Lancome cosmetics for 14 years (but fired in 1994 for getting ”too old,” at the age of 42, to represent the company’s desired beauty image), naked lady of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, mother of two, ex-wife of Martin Scorsese, ex-snookums of Lynch, Gary Oldman and who-all knows who else, she with the transcontinental accent and fondness for wearing men’s clothing. You were expecting maybe true confessions about life with Mama and Marty?
Oh, my dear, no, you’ve got the wrong writer. Some of Me covers some of Rossellini’s actual history: about her daddy’s-girl adoration of a demonstrative father and ambivalent emulation of/competition with/love for her coolly practical mother; about her relationships with her brother, Robertino, her twin sister, Ingrid, and her older half-sister, Pia Lindstrom; about the scoliosis that twisted her young life when she was 11; about some of the photographers and directors with whom she has worked; about selected romances; and about her real bitterness at losing that lucrative, career-defining Lancome gig.
But far more fascinating than all the ”I’ve appeared on 28 Vogue covers” cataloging are the zigzag digressions Rossellini takes in the name of personal literature. In the course of describing her fashion style, for instance, there is an homage to her Dolce & Gabbana bra (complete with photo), which she likens to ”the one under the blouses of the Sicilian widows, under Anna Magnani’s slip in an Italian neorealistic film. This bra is a symbol of my ethnic identity…. My black Sicilian bra is like Angela Davis’s Afro hairdo.” Power to the foundation garments! While reminiscing about her mother’s fur coat, she embarks on a long discourse on the copulatory activities of bugs. Rossellini stages long, imagined conversations between her father and Scorsese (the least interesting part of the book). She mentions and moves away from certain facts (like, she was once raped and beaten?!) without a backward glance. And she makes extraordinary statements — ”People, you are right. I am sorry if I seem bored and annoyed and am abrupt with all of you who tell me that I look like Ingrid Bergman. I do look like Ingrid Bergman. So…what am I to do? What do you want from me?” is one of my favorite — with breezy defiance.
What do we want? How about more. Those 28 Vogue covers have clearly taught Rossellini a thing or two about how to suggest without explaining. If she’s got any more poses she’d like to try out, I’m ready to be entertained. B+