Powered by Google
Editors' Picks
Arts + Books
Rec Room
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Adult Personals
Adult Classifieds
- - - - - - - - - - - -
FNX Radio
Band Guide
MassWeb Printing
- - - - - - - - - - - -
About Us
Contact Us
Advertise With Us
Work For Us
RSS Feeds
- - - - - - - - - - - -

sponsored links
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Sex Toys - Adult  DVDs - Sexy  Lingerie

  E-Mail This Article to a Friend

Less than lucid
Bertolucci’s un-visionary Dreamers
The Dreamers
Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. Written by Gilbert Adair, based on his novel. With Michael Pitt, Eva Green, and Louis Garrel. In English and French with English subtitles. A Fox Searchlight release (103 minutes). At the Kendall Square.

The law of nostalgia might be: those who repeat history are condemned to forget it. With The Dreamers, his handsome but pointless look back at Paris in May 1968, Bernardo Bertolucci becomes the latest filmmaker to demonstrate this rule.

The Dreamers wears its fond heart on its sleeve, and the best case that can be made for the movie is that Bertolucci is able, at moments, to communicate his warm feelings about the student protests of May ’68. Starting a film with Hendrix’s "3rd Stone from the Sun" can’t be a bad move: with the sinuous, driving music comes firmness and a sense of discovery. Unfortunately, Bertolucci seems to have made this film in a spirit of well-meaning condescension, as if he were saying, "These poor young people today know nothing of May ’68; I’ll try to explain it to them in a way they can understand." For our guides to the turbulent period, Bertolucci could scarcely have chosen worse than his three main characters: fresh-faced Matthew (Michael Pitt), a French-language student lately come to Paris from San Diego, and the sister-and-brother friends he makes while protesting the firing of Henri Langlois from the directorship of the Cinémathèque Française: impulsive Isabelle (Eva Green) and troubled Théo (Louis Garrel), two wealthy young cinephiles.

Illuminating nothing, though alluding to much, about the causes that inspired the revolutionaries of the time, The Dreamers turns inward with its three protagonists, who lock themselves in the sprawling apartment of Isabelle and Théo’s vacationing parents and wait out the storm playing psychosexual games with one another. Perhaps following Gilbert Adair’s source novel, Bertolucci dances up to but tiptoes away from all that might have been interesting about the trio’s overfamiliar imbroglio. The film never challenges Matthew’s privileged position as a voice for American normality and an advocate for the heterosexual couple against the bisexual ménage à trois. Meanwhile, the journey Isabelle and Théo make to the brink of madness generates no suspense, and the awaited sexual fireworks, though rewarded by an NC-17 rating (for clear views of Pitt’s penis and Green’s vagina), prove mild.

Better acting would have helped. Neither Pitt, with his DiCaprio–like blandness, nor the glowering Garrel (son of director Philippe Garrel) gives himself the right to be in the film: instead, they seem to be waiting for it to flow around them (Bertolucci’s virtuoso camera movements only emphasize the weightlessness and futility of his concept of the story). As for Green, her Isabelle is meant to be hot stuff — the film’s equivalent to Jeanne Moreau’s Catherine in Jules et Jim — but her nakedness is practically her whole performance, and it’s not apparent that Bertolucci tried to get anything more from her.

Another big problem is that Bertolucci wants to get by on what he can quote from and appropriate. In the first sequence, before the film has a chance to find its own point of view and its own images, The Dreamers is already basking in the reflected light and shadow of greatness, as Matthew watches Shock Corridor at the Cinémathèque. This lengthy sequence sets up the guessing game of film references that runs through the movie. No sooner does a character mention or contemplate À bout de souffle, Bande à part, Freaks, or some other classic than clips from the movie appear. But the characters’ obsession with film lore reveals nothing about them or their time; instead, their own lack of stature reduces the films they love to instant trivia. During his contrived climax, Bertolucci’s use of the sublime ending of Mouchette only makes apparent the hopelessness of his attempt to give The Dreamers a dignity it doesn’t deserve. (I did feel grateful when, a few minutes later, he let go an obvious chance to splice in the last scene of Viaggio in Italia, though I suspect it was only because he couldn’t get the rights.)

Maybe the most regrettable thing about The Dreamers — which in itself can be forgotten as painlessly as Bertolucci’s previous five or six films — is that it cheapens the memory of his own movie about youth, love, and politics, Before the Revolution. That was made in 1964, when Bertolucci, at age 24, was not only more passionate than the director of The Dreamers but also more intelligent.

Issue Date: February 13 - 19, 2004
Back to the Movies table of contents
  E-Mail This Article to a Friend

about the phoenix |  advertising info |  Webmaster |  work for us
Copyright © 2005 Phoenix Media/Communications Group