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The Dreamers

Posted by admin | Posted in Movies | Posted on 01-09-2010


From Academy Award®-winning director Bernardo Bertolucci (The Last Emperor, 1987), comes an erotic tale of three young film lovers brought together by their passion for movies — and each other. When Isabelle and Theo (Eva Green, Louis Garrel) invite Matthew (Michael Pitt) to stay with them, what begins as a casual friendship ripens into a sensual voyage of discovery and desire in which nothing is off limits and anything is possible. Featuring an engaging, seductive cast, … More >>

The Dreamers

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Comments (5)

…this film is (for the lack of a better word) a dream–a dream you would not willingly want to wake up from. Completely and utterly mesmerizing, “The Dreamers” pays homage to film, Paris, the 60’s, and love. Apart from some of the awkward moments this movie tends to present sporadically, the movie itself was not mired by the abnormalities of some of the main characters. Though, this movie is one of the greatest I’ve ever viewed, it is not for everyone and cannot be readily recommended without reviewing some of the pros and cons I caught.


-First off, if you’re offended, in any way, by frontal nudity from either sex… caution: it contains a lot!

-For some, if the ending is a chief factor in deciding that you like a movie, it is possible you could be dissapointed (it ends in an unlikely manner). But if you can appreciate the ending, it doesn’t hurt the film at all… Maybe people were disappointed by the ending because they didn’t want it to end :)

-If not accustomed to slower-moving movies, based on a load of story depth or the like opposed to action or thiller movies, then it could be a let down.

But the cons are heavily outweighed by the pros…


-For film buffs, Bertolucci doesn’t dissapoint. The b/w segments intermingled within the storyline are anything short of genius and, for me, was the most beautiful and spellbinding part of this movie.

-For anti-censorship viewers, this movie could seem to be sent from heaven, because it doesn’t leave much out.

-The acting is on a par with almost perfection, all three main characters are played flawlessly and completely take on the people they are supposed to evoke… Eva Green is especially amazing.

-The soundtrack is excellent as well. The tone that the music sets is completely appropriate and only adds to the dreamy atomsphere of the film; totally reminiscent of the 60’s.

-A perfect representation of Paris in the 60’s; eventhough the film’s centerpoint is the main characters and their relationship with one another, the artist’s home of Europe couldn’t be portrayed to be more gorgeous (with the exception of the student riots in foreground).

It is difficult to stop thinking of this movie, even between viewing other movies… if I could i’d give it six stars.
Rating: 5 / 5

Bertolucci’s revolutionary film takes place in the tumultous summer of 1968 in which a young American, Matthew (Michael Pitt) has come to Paris to study French. He becames a cinephile and a frequent patron of the Cinemateque Francais, the breeding ground for the New Wave movement. Shortly after the firing of Langlois, he meets fellow cinephiles Isabelle (Eva Green) and Theo (Louis Cassel) and scores an invitation to dinner.

That’s how it begins, but this movie isn’t linear and it cannot be deciphered merely by the order of events. Quite frankly, I was amazed by Fox Searchlight releasing what may be one of the most revolutionary and sexually progressive films of recent years. In the streets, the young and old found their revolutionary voices in 1968 and fought to institute governmental changes, but inside this chic apartment another revolution is taking place as well only this one involves fewer persons.

Matthew is clearly enamored of Isabelle and Theo (though this latter relationship isn’t as developed as in “The Holy Innocents”, which I found took away from the storyline) but he is not transfixed by them. He realizes that though they observe the world, they purposely keep themselves outside of it. Theo’s father correctly observes early in the movie that to understand the world and change it, you have to become part of it. This is a lesson Matthew is constantly aware of and tries to pass on to his new friends. The first inkling of how grounded he is in this reality comes with the Zippo scene (my favorite) in which his casual observation of how a simple lighter fits into every possible place. Life allows us to fit into many possible spaces as we constantly change and constantly search for the ideal spot, but the cosmic lesson in it is that we will fit into them and consequently, will fit ideally into the one we pick out. We must allow ourselves to inhabit the spaces and become part of them in order to test the waters all the while and we do this by leaving the comfort of our original spot and become part of the overall world.

The sexual relationship between Isabelle and Matthew was passionate, realistic and completely believable. We live in very hypocritical times where nudity has become more taboo than violence and it was a pleasure to see young people making love with all of the intimate gestures that take place between lovers. It obviously takes a great director to pique our cinematic memories and remind us that it takes two nude bodies to make love. The nude scenes between the brother and sister were a bit troublesome to the audience I saw this movie with, but the incestual nature of their relationship in the book has been erased. To me, they just seemed dangerously, asphixiatingly bound to each other, the nudity being just part of said obsession.

All three actors do a fine job, but it takes a brave director to end a film with a police action about to take place to the sounds of Edith Piaf’s “Je Ne Regrette Rien”. Bertolucci understands his young protagonists and knows the many errors they will continue to commit before they pick and choose what is right and what is wrong because he has been there himself. And he regrets nothing. We should all be so lucky.
Rating: 5 / 5

I don’t know quite what to make of “The Dreamers”. How did a movie with the sensibilities of 1968 suddenly show up in 2004? Though beautiful to look at, it seems oddly out of place. What is a movie in this era of `either you are with us or against us’ doing here? How dare a movie suggest that, after all is said and done, life isn’t a matter of right or wrong, but of shades of grays? And what is this vision of youth, not as a dumbed down, almost quaint part of humanity, but as a vibrant, intelligent force which, by its very essence, begets change? Haven’t we gotten past such nonsense?

Matthew [Michael Pitt] is an American exchange student spending a year in Paris to study film. He meets French twins, Isabelle [Eva Green] and Theo [Louis Garrel]. They quickly bond, and, when the siblings’ parents leave Paris for a month, Matthew moves into their vast old apartment. Their bonding immediately takes a sexual and virtually incestuous turn. The adventure-seeking but ultimately puritanical Matthew is fascinated by the sensuous and all too worldly twins.

While most of the story takes place inside the apartment, it is set against the French student uprising of 1968. Purportedly, this all began when the founder of the French film institute was fired. It quickly spread and nearly toppled the government. Young people today know little about this event, but, at the time, it was front page news. It was an era of disillusionment both in American and in Europe. The culprits were the Vietnam War and the debate over the value of Communism. People over 30 may have been content to twiddle their thumbs over the problems, but youth certainly was not.

Brilliantly directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, the movie is also an ode to the beauty and power of film. The three young protagonists see everything that is happening around them in cinematic terms. Initially, this insulates them, but as the film progresses, it is their undoing. After all, as powerful as it is, art can only imitate life. It can not BE life.

For thinking [God forbid I say `intellectual’] adult viewers, “The Dreamers” may be a profoundly moving experience. For all others, I can highly recommend the sex scenes – not that thinking people may not enjoy them, too.
Rating: 4 / 5

This film is very good, I was surprized at how much I liked it considering all the media reviews around its release which emphasized incest and nudity and sexual taboos. In fact, the film is really about the social construction of reality and the testing of your constructed reality model. Let me explain what I mean by this; a pair of beautiful twins, a brother and sister, have developed a passion for film and have developed a highly dependent relationship upon each other that focuses their erotic energies toward each other in their insular world rather than outward. They have constructed an odd reality system, but for them it seems to have worked. They interprete the world through film. The first weakening of this reality system begins when the twins, Isabelle and Theo, invite Matthew into their world. Their parents leave for a month long summer vacation and Matthew moves into their lush apartment.

There is a very telling and important scene where Matthew comes to dinner with the family and the father and Theo have an argument at the table. Theo is angry and full of adolescent rage at his father, but his father is saddened to see Theo full of anger and so empty of real experience. Theo’s view of reality is distorted and his sad father realizes that he can’t help his son, that only pain and experience will open his eyes. Theo and Isabella have no idea how pampered they really are. Matthew sees it immediately but is gradually seduced by the beautiful and sophisticated twins.

Matthew is the first crack in the wall of their world. He moves into the apartment and they play games around famous films. Isabelle seduces Matthew, who is her first love, while Theo watches and so begins a marathon of love making all over the house from which Theo gradually withdraws. Theo then makes love to a girl in his college class, which is just the trick to stir Isabelle’s insecurity, jealousy, and dependency needs. She quickly pulls Theo back into the threesome orbit.

These three young people are consumers, they are not producers, they run out of food and money and eventually drink a lot of the father’s wine collection. Matthew, through his genuine love for Isabelle, trys to insert an external reality into their world, but both Theo and Isabelle resist. Around them the city of Paris is in riot yet the twins are oblivious. In a great scene, Isabelle and Theo wish to shave Matthew’s pubic hair and he rebels and refuses confronting them with a desire to infantilize him, to make him their little boy – the childhood Theo loved by Isabelle, rather than accept that he loves Isabelle alone and wants out of the triangle.

The parents return because the phone line is dead and when the nude threesome are discovered, in a bedspread tent Isabelle recreates from her childhood, Isabelle decides to kill herself and the others using gas from the oven. This young woman will go to extremes to avoid letting the world enter her reality. To some degree she is the ultimate control freak in that she must control those around her to meet her needs and she does not allow any contrary vision of the real world to enter into her created childhood space. Matthew, though totally in love with her, realizes it is a lost cause. He realizes this when Isabelle and Theo are thrown into an on-going riot and begin acting like characters from a movie, with reckless abandonment as if they were immortal. He merges into the riot and disappears from their lives.

I loved the title, The Dreamers, for this exactly captures Theo and Isabelle’s world. At least Matthew finally awoke. This is an underestimated film, it is very well done.
Rating: 4 / 5

There are two types of dreamers in “The Dreamers”: the three main characters, who create their own interior world and prefer to view the outside world by watching classic 1930s cinema; and the socialist street revolutionaries of riot-torn 1968 Paris, who attempt to overthrow the political and economic power structure. “The Dreamers” focuses more on the former than the latter, and Bernardo Bertolucci is careful to leave his film open to interpretation, but ultimately the dream world of the three main characters is shattered by the realities of life. The film ends before resolving the outcome of the second set of dreamers, but we all know our history. Some may think it a shame that the dreamers fail, but others like myself will view it as something that has to happen, if the dream is unrealistic and unsustainable.

The relationship between the three main characters is unlike anything that I’ve ever seen portrayed on film. The twins, Isabelle and Theo, are almost as close to each other in young adulthood as they were during the nine months they spent together in their mother’s womb. Matthew, a U.S. student studying abroad in Paris, inserts himself into the middle, and when he receives early indications that portend the depth of the relationship between the twins, he does not run away. To me, this required too much suspension of disbelief, but I’m certainly aware that others have different proclivities. If Bertolucci’s intent was to show a high degree of separation between his three dreamers and the rest of society, he certainly succeeded.

The three dreamers have some, but ultimately too little, awareness of their separation from reality and the unsustainable nature of the world they create. While sympathizing with the revolutionaries in the street, they actually are the ultimate materialistic consumers: they produce nothing that they consume (neither food nor art), and when the money their parents provide runs out, and they’ve drained most of the wine cellar, the harsh realities of life set in. Rooting through trash heaps isn’t the answer, and the choices that they leave themselves in the end (self-annihilation or nihilism), I believe, show just how flawed their ideal world is. My interpretation is that this lesson also applies to the other set of dreamers, the street revolutionaries, but those who even today sympathize with the views of those revolutionaries will reject this interpretation.

“The Dreamers” is very voyeuristic, and Bertolucci puts his three leads through some incredibly intimate moments. All three leads are quite good, with Eva Green in particular deserving special notice for a completely uninhibited performance (at least the two male leads had each other’s example to follow). It’s hard to come up with an accurate overall rating for this film, because I think there will be a widespread variance in how different people react to both the storyline and the images. Read the reviews carefully, and if it sounds like something that interests and won’t shock you, then give it a try. My middle-of-the-road rating is mainly due to my not being terribly interested in the type of relationship formed by the three main characters.
Rating: 3 / 5

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