The Dreamers

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Bertolucci's engrossing, elegant film is a seductive adaptation by

Gilbert Adair

of his novel The Holy Innocents. In Paris, as a student in the spring of 1968, Matthew (Pitt) is a young American usually to be found glued to the smoke-stained silver screen at the Palais de Chaillot. There, during a demo against the government's firing of Henri Langlois as head of the Cinémathèque, he meets and falls in with Isabelle (Green) and Théo (Garrel), a brother and sister as beautiful as they are bent on making their lives resemble the movies they adore - Les Enfants Terribles, perhaps? When they invite him to move into their apartment while their parents are on holiday, the relationship becomes more intimate, and intense. Meanwhile, things are also heating up out on the streets. An evocative reminiscence of an era when cinema and politics could count for as much as carnal passion, this delicious movie is written and directed with feeling and flair, and played to near perfection by its appealing young leads. The film benefits hugely from the fact that Bertolucci and Adair were caught up in the exhilarating mood of change that made '68 a year to savour. Besides being stylish, sexy and witty, the film feels authentic. The ménage-à-trois and its members are treated sympathetically but never romanticised; the cinéphile allusions are many, correct, illuminating but never overdone; the music is equally well chosen and expressive; the shifts between the erotic hothouse atmosphere of the apartment and the heady air of liberation outside skilfully handled. A real pleasure.

By: GA

Release details

Rated: 18
Duration: 115 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Screenwriter: Gilbert Adair
Cast: Michael Pitt
Eva Green
Louis Garrel
Robin Renucci
Anna Chancellor
Jean-Pierre Kalfon
Jean-Pierre Léaud

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

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liked this film though it's a long way from Bertolluci's best films,Viz:- The Conformist(Freudian and Marxist),The Spider's Strategem(based on Borge story) and 1900(socialism vs fascism in Italy). But I'll give it it's due.It represents a dream of'68, rather than '68 itself.We retreat from the outer political revolution on the streets into an interior dreamy sensuality of personal liberation in the labrynthine corridors of a lush apartment,vacated for 1 month by the parents of Isabelle and Theo.This brother and sister have an incestuous type of relationship(sleep in the nude together) which doesn't involve sex.They are two cinephiles who worship at the altar of the nouvelle vague and constantly quote from film or question each other(Bertolluci cleverly inserts clips from said films).They invite an American student to join them in their sexual mind games and personal self explorations.The acting by all three is very good especially Eva Green who bares a lot, but with an air of innocence.She is virginal and makes love to Matthew the American. Her brother, a maoist, is dark and broody.Mathew knows they need to become independent of each other and it is the rivalry between him and Theo that finally divides them sending them out into the political streets below.Isabelle is immature and clings to her childish bond of loyalty and they head off together in the opposite direction to Matthew. There is a good use of 50s French song as well as 60s rock music with Hendrix, Joplin,Dylan,The Doors, The Grateful Dead, played over some of the scenes. They also imitate scenes from loved films like Breathless, Queen Christina, Bande A Part,where they race through the Louvre in less time than was done in the film.Is it too precious or decadent,no,because Bertolluci is showing that moment before the revolution when anticipation and aspiration is high, not the aftermath.He also has lovingly crafted a homage to late 50s/early 60s new wave films at that time when Paris was at the center of life.He also gives the body a dreamy innocence without any suggestion of porn and a pre-Aids awareness that is nostalgic.