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Worth A Look: 36.84%
Average: 12.28%
Pretty Bad: 3.51%
Total Crap: 1.75%

5 reviews, 27 user ratings

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Dreamers, The
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by Chris Parry

"Children playing adult games, while adults play elsewhere."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2004 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: The Dreamers is a film that has been heard much about, before a scene was ever shown in the United States. The controversy that has existed around the film is simple - in Europe, sex is seen as part of life, whereas in the US it is seen as dirty. Bernardo Bertolucci, a European director of great respect, directed this film in a no-nudity-barred fashon which had Fox Searchlight, the US distributors of the film, making hurried cuts in order to avoid an NC-17 rating. The director and his cast responded with outrage, fuming in open letters to the company that it would be a crime to cut one frame of this beautiful, original film. I concur; the film is fabulous, and thank God that Fox Searchlight saw the error of their ways and opted to release the film in its complete form - NC-17 be damned.

Matthew (Michael Pitt), an American kid living in France in 1968, encounters a pair of local kids at the cinemateque who share his pasison for all things film. He develops a liking for the two, and they for him, which leads to Matthew being invited to come over for dinner. The American duly jumps at the chance, being as he'll be able to spend time eating (which he can't afford to do himself) and flirting with the female of the pair, Isabelle (Eva Green).

But Isabelle isn't like other girls. She and her brother share a bond that goes far beyong 'brotherly love', and while they seem willing to bring young Matthew into the loop, his American upbringing never included instruction on how to handle a threesome - let alone an incestuous one.

Bernardo Bertolucci is no stranger to controversy. He helmed Last Tango in Paris way back in the 70's, which audiences paid a lot of attention to despite it's near porn reputation, and the directing genius also swept the Oscar pool with The Last Emperor in 1987. His films tend to polarize audiences, who invariably either call him a genius or a hack. Or a genius hack.

But The Dreamers, in my opinion, is his best work to date. Film, politics, sex, the cultural divide, love, relationships, parenting - it's all looked over by Bertolucci's camera and Gilbert Adair's words, and the result is almost uniformly breathtaking. As I watched the film, I felt myself unable to avoid writing down choice pieces of dialogue as they spewed forth, like I was front row at a David Mamet retrospective. "Everyone else's parents are always better than our own. Just as our own grandparents are always better than everyone else's..."

The film does a great job harking back to old classic French and American films, such as Bande Part, Freaks, Queen Christina, Scarface, City Lights, Breathless and Blonde Venus, by replaying scenes from those films within the story itself. Bertolucci offers up flashbacks of pivotal scenes in the history of cinema, then intercuts his actors into those scenes, providing an almost Cinema Paradiso-like homage to the past that will have true cinephiles smiling hard.

And while Bertolucci's great love of cinema is apparent, so to is his love of flesh. The Dreamers is a very sexual film. In fact, I doubt that Eva Green would have managed to get through the production without catching at least one cold, being as she's either naked, near naked, or contemplating getting naked for a good 65% of the film. Michael Pitt and co-star Louis Garrel fare little better, as they're almost continually involved in a game of flirtatious cat and mouse with Isabelle. Will Matthew succumb to Isabelle's romantic teasing? Will he freak out at the 'bond' that she and her brother share, or will he join in on their games and be one corner of an odd Euro-love triangle?

The Dreamers is an apt title for such a piece of work, for not only do the characters pontificate about life in 1968 Paris, who was funnier between Chaplin and Keaton, and whether there's a god, but so too does the director, and indeed the audience. The entire story seems almost to exist as a daydream from Bertolucci himself, as his mark is prevalent all the way through the film. Though the film is based on a book by Gilbert Adair, Bertolucci's signature is writ large across every frame, sometimes to the detriment of what is on screen, but generally the opposite.

Sure, it will be easy for some to point fingers at The Dreamers and claim that it is nothing more than the wankery of an old man clutching to the past. But you could say that too about the aforementioned Cinema Paradiso, and any film from the last fifteen years of Woody Allen's repertoire. The point is not whether it fits the pigeonhole of modern commercial cinema, but whether it provokes thought, emotion and intrigue in the audience.

For my money, it hits on all counts. The Dreamers had me dreaming right along with the main characters, and though they often infuriated me with their over-thinking and arty farty ways, I recognized them for the children they are - trying to be adults, way before their time. Great film.

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originally posted: 01/26/04 20:35:39
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/13/07 al smith good movie eva greens body is amazing what a pair of tits and bush 4 stars
3/01/07 fiona provocative.....artistic...a little bit sexy too. 4 stars
12/01/06 moonsilver beautiful,fasinating, saw it twice in same night 5 stars
11/16/06 David Pollastrini a porno movie masquerading as art! 4 stars
9/01/06 William Goss Pleasant and pretentious in equal measure. Green's certainly easy on the eyes, however. 3 stars
12/02/05 brian lee best movie & awesome 5 stars
8/17/05 shibu andrews outstanding,identifying myself,purify myself, 5 stars
8/03/05 Hockeytown Frustrating waiting for youth to take a stand for something 4 stars
6/07/05 Alex St. John The Dreamers is an amazing film that touches base with many topics still present today. 5 stars
4/19/05 Danny VERY strange. Leads are good, especially Pitt. 4 stars
3/21/05 Richard Pryor mmmmm, strange movie 4 stars
1/13/05 Amy Kennedy Wonderful movie for cinephiles 5 stars
11/08/04 g s induma vary vary good move 5 stars
8/29/04 jennifer it was the best movie i have ever seen so much emotion it was awesome 5 stars
8/16/04 Patricia Davis Loved it, nearly his most accessible film. The boys are DELISH. A brave film... 5 stars
7/29/04 tatum EEK! PENISES!! Lighten up, MPAA! 4 stars
7/13/04 Elizabeth Disappointing for Bertolucci. Nudity does not equal fleshed-out characters. 2 stars
4/26/04 Eugene du Plooy Excellent - so revolutionary! 5 stars
3/31/04 john loved it 5 stars
3/29/04 Megan Casey Amazing... but not everyone could handle it. 5 stars
2/29/04 nniedzielski how could a movie with that much sex in it be so boring? 2 stars
2/29/04 Brittani artistically and visually stunning 4 stars
2/29/04 jimmy two times strange film. I relate to it even though I was born in the seventies. classic bertolucci. 4 stars
2/28/04 Delphina a fine piece of beautiful cinema 5 stars
2/23/04 david miller unAmerican...beautifully filmed 5 stars
2/22/04 Ash Eva green's body is a piece of art .I really loved the movie 5 stars
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  06-Feb-2004 (NC-17)
  DVD: 13-Jul-2004



Directed by
  Bernardo Bertolucci

Written by
  Gilbert Adair

  Michael Pitt
  Eva Green
  Louis Garrel
  Robin Renucci
  Anna Chancellor

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