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.
Cast and crew