Film Reviews

THE DREAMERS

By • Feb 6th, 2004 •

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Fox Searchlight Pictures / A Recorded Picture Company / Peninsular Films / Fiction Co-Production
Running time: 118 minutes / No MPAA rating

Straight guys just don’t do these things in each other’s company (I took a highly unscientific survey): Walk around naked, sleep together, and take long philosophical babble bubble baths together. Even if there is a gorgeous, naked girl walking around. Does it make any difference if the boy and girl are French and the year is 1968?

It may have beautiful, flirting-with-incest twins, Isabelle (Eva Green) and Theo (Louis Garrel), a lot of full-frontal, up close nudity, pot-smoking, house-wrecking, wine-drinking, and an American innocent, Matthew (Michael Pitt), but it also has no story, no satisfying ending and old, old black & white film clips (I certainly never cared if Buster Keaton was really more talented than Charlie Chaplin). The dialogue is trite; after all, these characters are 19! Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci, who gallantly received an NC-17 rating as a medal of honor, prances and snakes all around the homosexuality. How brave is this?

1968 may have been Bertolucci’s fondest memory year, but he fails to translate the true substance of his ardor here. These kids are arrogant and willful. Isabelle and Theo have a rich, famous father. They live in a fabulous, huge apartment in the heart of Paris. Their adoring mother indulgences them with checks. They are absolutely free to do whatever they want. When they meet student Matthew outside Cinematheque Francaise, they invite him to their house for dinner. With their parents taking off for a month to go to the country, they ask Matthew to stay with them. Isabelle is a sexual tease and a dominatrix in the making. What is her problem? Theo is sexually confused and in love with his sister. He broods. Bertolucci might have Isabelle walking around naked with the camera aimed steadily at her body, but it is Matthew he is obsessed with. The movie is all about Matthew and Theo. Eva is their “beard.” Really, she gets in the way.

Now this – three kids stuck in a Paris apartment talking about films – could get tedious, so luckily for us, there is some kind of political instability going on in Paris. The French government has fired Henri Langlois as director of the Cinematheque and violent riots ensue. Isabelle and Theo are “intellectually” involved, but decide to stay inside with Matthew and explore his sexuality.

The ending is so dumb that one hopes something good came out of the burning of Paris going on outside. The depiction of the parents suggests that neither Bertolucci nor screenwriter Gilbert Adair (basing his script on his novel “The Holy Innocents”) had parents. They certainly do not own a glorious apartment in Paris. Whether or not either of them ever had a brief, resolved/unresolved flirtation with another boy is an open question.


Credits:
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Screenwriter: Gilbert Adair, based on his novel “The Holy Innocents”
Producer: Jeremy Thomas
Director of photography: Fabio Cianchetti
Production designer: Jean Rabasse
Co-producer: John Bernard
Costume designer: Louise Stjernsward
Editor: Jacopo Quadri

Cast:
Matthew: Michael Pitt
Isabelle: Eva Green
Theo: Louis Garrel

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