Monday, June 11, 2007

Rewind: Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers (Film Review)

......ahhh, the summertime...when many a city-dweller seeks refuge in a movie theater, and while I check screeners on the regular, for gigs, there's still nothing finer than finding that film you'd been planning to see, kicking back on a hot day (beer optional) while a film maker weaves a cinematic tale for you on the screen...well, it used to be...Finding a film with kind tunage is getting harder and harder these days (especially if you don't cotton to the mewling of glass-jawed dandies and teeth-achingly saccharine pap that gets you reaching for a bucket)...I was pleased as punch to hear a grip of it on this Bernardo Bertolucci film that dropped a couple of years ago......(press play)...

The Dreamers follows Matthew (Michael Pitt), an American studying in Paris during the politically turbulent spring of 1968. Matt’s a Southern Californian loner and a film buff who spends an inordinate amount of time at the French Cinémathèque founded by Henri Langlois who is called on the carpet by the government for the provocative films he chooses to screen. In defiance of the latter, the French student body revolts. While participating in a protest, Matthew meets the equally cinema-obsessed Isabelle (Eva Green) who introduces him to her brother, Theo (Louis Garrel).

As the story holds, the siblings soon become friendly with the expat and invite him over to dinner at their parent’s flat where he makes a good impression waxing philosophic on the intricacies of Zippo lighters and tablecloth patterns. The armchair cinéastes soon become wrapped up in each other on levels sexual, intellectual and moral as the world of New Wave film and rioting recedes into the background. Oscar Wilde once wrote “I can resist everything but temptation” and Matty is not above the fray in the least. He soon becomes “one of them, one of them, one of them.”

Inevitably, Matt falls for Isabelle’s sybaritic powers and becomes a wedge between Issie and her (sometimes) swarthy twin brother’s relationship. Certainly, there are times during the film that will have the viewer thinking like principal Rooney in Ferris Bueller's Day Off "So that's how it is in their family." Whether or not the brother and sister make good on all the implied incestuous relationship is clarified on the kitchen floor, following a striptease in front of a lighted bust of Chairman Mao Tse Tung while eggs are cooked and cigarettes are inhaled- yeah, your read that part correctly. The film also gives new meaning to the phrase “bring your own toothbrush.”

Hindsight 20/20: The Dreamers is adapted from the novel “The Holy Innocents: A Romance,” written by Gilbert Adair. Bertolucci had the good sense to utilize the character’s source to write the screenplay and there’s also some good music from the 60’s too - primarily from Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrisson. Unlike other similarly rated films, the nakedness is tertiary to the storyline and classic film references. Bertolucci makes hay of the NC-17 content by telling an intriguing story. While some of the plot unravels in places, it is still worth watching nonetheless. “Before you change the world, you must remember that you are still a part of it."

Cast: Michael Pitt, Eva Green, Louis Garrel
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Rating: NC17
Released in the US: Feb. 6, 2004

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