The Dreamers
3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
The Dreamers Bertolucci is clearly trying to recapture his controversial Last Tango in Paris vibe with this sex-infused film that touches on all kinds of interesting themes ... but never goes anywhere interesting with them. Rather like all his films. Matthew (Pitt) is a 20-year-old American in 1968 Paris, a film fan caught up in the collision of art and politics on the turbulent city streets. During one protest he meets sexy local girl Isabelle (Green) and her twin brother Theo (Garrel), whose intelligent, arty parents (Chancellor and Renucci) invite Matthew to stay in the family flat instead of his fleabag hotel. But when Mummy and Papa go away for a month, the three kids get up to all manner of sexual exploration, while Paris churns outside.

The three central performances are clever and insightful, insinuating and textured. Pitt is especially good, sympathetic and magnetic as always; while Garrel and Green are tantalisingly mysterious. Bertolucci films it beautifully, interweaving classic film clips and references as well as flashes of black humour and honest sensuality. As it progresses all starts to get rather housebound--ingrown and yucky. But then Matthew, Isabelle and Theo are housebound, ingrown and yucky! These are thoughtless young people trying to find meaning in life ... and failing at every attempt.

There's a clever juxtaposition between this trio's aimless idealism indoors and the much more focussed anger outside. And in the way Matthew, Isabelle and Theo circle around each other, shifting liaisons and expanding each others' limits, Bertolucci and Adair (who based the script on his novel The Holy Innocents) touch on some intriguing ideas. But to call this a menage a trios is hugely misleading, because the film completely avoids the two links in the chain that might cause real controversy--namely homosexuality and incest. These are only hinted at flirtatiously, never dealt with at all. And this refusal to grapple with the issues on everyone's mind undermines the film's pretentious approach. Despite the gorgeous direction, it's like Bertolucci thinks he's making a brave, bold statement about idealism and sexuality, but then he chickens out and says nothing about either.

cert 18 themes, language, nudity, sex 18.Sep.03

dir Bernardo Bertolucci
scr Gilbert Adair
with Michael Pitt, Louis Garrel, Eva Green, Anna Chancellor, Robin Renucci, Florian Cadiou
release UK/US 6.Feb.04
03/France 1h55

Sibling rivalry: Pitt and Green bond ... while Garrel bathes.

pitt chancellor bertolucci

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2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall