Directed by Bernardo Bertulucci ("The Last Emperor").
Written by Gilbert Adair.
Starring Michael Pitt, Louis Garrel and Eva Green.
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 2/16/04
I haven’t checked my records to be sure
about this, but I’m 99% positive that I have never reviewed a film
rated NC-17 before “The Dreamers.” As such, this is a watershed
moment. What kind of watershed moment is up to you.
“The Dreamers” is the story of an American
named Matthew (Michael Pitt) hangin’ out in Paris in 1968, amidst
the backdrop of a city on the verge of revolt. Revolt over what,
I’m not exactly sure, although it seemed like a lot of it had to do
with movies, or freedom of speech, or the fact that this American’s
new best friends, French twins Theo (Louis Garrel) and Isi (Eva
Green), are doing a lot of nude frolicking at their parents’ house.
The friends mesh quickly, thanks to their shared love of films made
in the 30s and 40s, reading books, visiting the Louvre and...taking
lots of baths together. Oh, and did I mention that the brother and
sister like to make bets where when someone loses, one of them has
to masturbate in front of the other?
One of the posters for “The Dreamers” touted
a reviewer’s comment that should have summed up the film for me:
“Pure Bertolucci.” So, I had to check to see just what “pure
Bertolucci” might mean. The film is directed by Bernardo Bertolucci,
who directed the fantastic epic “The Last Emperor.” He also
directed “Last Tango in Paris”, which I have not seen but have
certainly heard of due to its ratings troubles back in the 70s. He
has made many other films, but I have not seen them; he also
directed “1900”, which I’ve heard of but not seen. So, all I could
go off of was my experience with “The Last Emperor”, and there isn’t
a single thing about that film that relates to “The Dreamers”, from
its scope, to its sexuality, to its casting. In fact, I think I
need to find out why I’m the only one in the dark about a comment
like “pure Bertolucci” when nothing could be more vague. Now, if
this was Almodovar, and the comment was “pure Almodovar”, then we
can have a conversation; 90% of his films are classics and about
sexuality, comedy and relationships. Or, maybe “pure
Schwarzenegger.” That paints a picture for sure. But “pure
Anyway, enough of that rant. “The Dreamers”
hooked me in due to its characters’ love of the cinema; like my
buddy Gordon and I, 75% of what we say came from either “Die Hard”,
“Top Gun”, “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” (“Can ya, can ya just pour it
in my hand...”) or “Mission: Impossible” (“Man down, Ethan...man
down”), so I love it when film characters express themselves by
quoting lines from films, or reenacting scenes from their favorite
films, and on and on. And, even a true film geek couldn’t pull out
all of the film trivia that is recited in “The Dreamers”; I would
bet even Tarantino-philes who know that his production company is
called A Band Apart Films have never seen “Bande a part”, a French
film from 1964. Or a brief but interesting conversation on Buster
Keaton versus Charlie Chaplin as actors and comedians...there’s some
rich stuff here if you love the movies.
You should also check out this film if you
are cool with lots of nudity. I hadn’t read any reviews of this
flick coming in, and that was a good move, since I didn’t prepare
myself for an extended sequence with the threesome just kind of, you
know, hangin’ out in the kitchen one day. Unlike those pesky sex
scenes by American auteurs, Bertolucci (so “pure”) does a great job
handling the awkward sexuality of these kids, while still making
these sequences feel natural and sometimes pretty frisky. I don’t
think the film deserves NC-17 status, but I’m just another guy in
The film wants to address issues that don’t
mix well with what’s happening with those three kids at the house,
and I felt there were some missed opportunities with the parents of
Theo and Isi in a couple of places. The political environment and
the fascist-like police state that are depicted at various intervals
were not incorporated well; I’m sure, in the book on which “The
Dreamers” is based, that all is forgiven in the longer written
format, but here it just feels like lip service. Otherwise, “The
Dreamers” is a solid film that takes a movie lover like me on its
ride and lets go when the lights come up.
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard