As celebrity bios go, Isabella Rossellini's
Some of Me at least has the virtue of
quirkiness. As the title implies, Rossellini is
only offering part of her story. In this case,
though, it's more than a case of simply holding
a few things back. Rossellini warns us up
front that what's here may or may not be
verity: "Don't expect confessions, revelations,
not even the truth," she writes. "It's a habit of
mine to embellish and color events until I lose
sight of what really happened. Even when I
was a child my grandmother always had to
ask me ... 'Truth or fantasy?' If you want to
eliminate my grandmother's kindness and put
it more bluntly, I lie. I always did."
Some of Me proceeds anecdotally (how
could it not, since Rossellini seems too young
to have written a memoir), and for a while,
her stories are enough to keep the book
engaging. Put it this way: Rossellini's light and
charming manner would make a perfect
late-night talk show interview. If she reveals
anything about herself, it's that she leans more
to the Mediterranean than the Scandinavian
side of her lineage. She's amusingly truculent
toward the people who ask her what it was
like to grow up as the child of Ingrid Bergman
and Roberto Rossellini. Since she never knew
anything else, she asks, how could she say?
And though she's blunt, palpably (and
justifiably) angry when she writes of how
Lancôme dropped her because they thought
she was becoming too old to be their model,
there's no malice when she writes about the
men in her life, like David Lynch and
ex-husband Martin Scorsese.
But although Rossellini claims to have
inherited her mother's passion for cleaning and
order, the narrative has a scattershot quality.
Rossellini's own idiosyncrasies aren't enough
to sustain the book and the imaginary
conversations she constructs between herself,
her father and her mother get to be a bit
much. Sometimes, it's better for stars to
remain a mystery. -- Salon
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Awkwardness is this memoir's greatest flaw; but it is also its greatest virtue, as actress and model Rossellini rambles charmingly about her life, loves and career, evidently without the aid of a ghostwriter. Anyone looking for literary polish or even a narrative is likely to be disappointed, but those who enjoy something that reads like the after-dinner talk of a beautiful and worldly celebrity will find much that is entertaining. There are detailed instructions on dishwashing from Rossellini's mother, Ingrid Bergman, pronouncements on art and politics from her father, the Italian filmmaker Roberto Rossellini, and a memory of young Isabella and her siblings (including her twin sister, Ingrid) flinging rocks at paparazzi. Rossellini speaks with affection but not much detail about her relationships with filmmakers Martin Scorsese and David Lynch, and provides what even she calls "boring" detail about her long association with Lancombe cosmetics and its unpleasant ending. Along the way are goofy digressions about ants and aphids, a few forgivable displays of celebrity petulance (four pages on how she hates being told she looks like her mother) and, throughout, imaginary dialogues, including several fictional conversations between her father and Scorsese. Here and there Rossellini's table talk takes on weight, as when she discusses her childhood battle with scoliosis, but readers are most likely to come away from this pleasant, ephemeral volume with a vivid memory of Rossellini's voice and striking face (the book is liberally illustrated), but without quite remembering what she said.
Rossellini is a personality in every sense. As the daughter of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini, she was famous by default even before she forged her own career by design, most noticeably as Lancome's cover girl. In this lisless work, she ruminates on such diverse, rather banal subjects as aging, pets, her mother's hand-me-down fur coat, and the sex lives of garden insects. Her recollections of her family and of influential people around her are occasionally moving, and the sensitivity with which she created her roles in the films Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart makes for an interesting aside. Rossellini's insight into the fashion industry is trenchant: advertising campaigns are shown to be the ultimate postmodern compliment to legendary women. Belied throughout is the author's truly cosmopolitan upbringing in Paris, Rome, and New York. More of a musing than a memoir, this slim volume is candid and intimate but not terribly profound. Of interest to those fascinated by the cult of personality. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/97.]Jayne Plymale, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Athens
A collage of autobiographical recollections by the model and actress, featuring wry insights on her professions (for her first Vogue cover, in 1982, she was paid $150; there are some fascinating glimpses of her work with the director David Lynch, "the Jimmy Stewart from Mars"), reflections on her famous parents (the director Roberto Rossellini, who conducted much of his life from his bed, even keeping a film-editing table next to it, and the actress Ingrid Bergman, who "loved acting most and above all"), droll, chatty passages on everything from bras to the true meaning of glamour, and frank descriptions of such matters as the therapeutic uses of lying and her idiosyncratic habit of holding discussions with her "ghosts" (principally, her mother and father) at particularly stressful moments. The relaxed, breezy, straightforward tone of these brief pieces is startlingly effective: It's rather like spending a long evening listening to a hectic, disarmingly honest (and charmingly ironic) stream-of- consciousness monologue.