Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, starring Michael Pitt, Eva Green, Louis Garrel, Robin Renucci and Anna Chancellor.
Celebrated director Bernardo Bertolucci returns to the Paris of 'Last Tango...' for 'The Dreamers', an incestuous, passionate ménage à trois set against the backdrop of the 1968 student riots. Refusing to re-create the events of that time, Bertolucci instead captures the spirit of rebellion in the air through his beautiful young characters' passionate devotion to film, music and politics, paying homage to the ideas and ideals, if not the letter, of '68.
Matthew (Pitt) is a naïve, film-obsessed American in Paris who regularly attends screenings of rare films at the famed Cinematheque Française. Wandering through the crowds gathered after the government's inflammatory sacking of that institute's founder and director, Henri Langlois, Matthew meets a pair of fellow-cineastes, twins Theo (Garrel) and Isabelle (Green). The siblings are the children of a former left-wing poet (now a member of the hated middle-class bourgeoisie), opinionated, intellectual and intensely self-conscious. Like an innocent moth to the flame, Matthew finds Theo and Isabelle irresistibly attractive and they convince him to move into their absent parents' labyrinthine Left Bank apartment for the summer.
As the temperature heats up on the streets outside, the trio stay cocooned indoors, chain-smoking, arguing the merits of Keaton versus Chaplin, debating pacifism and Vietnam and playing film-recognition games which develop an intensely sexual subtext. With Theo's encouragement, Matthew falls for Isabelle, there's an unconsummated incestuous drama going on between the twins and homo-erotic overtones in Matthew and Theo's relationship. It's an abrupt awakening for the initially prudish young American, who becomes rapidly caught up in a strange, sensual vortex.
Bertolucci pays tribute to the films of that time, and of the past, beloved by the cinema-obsessed trio, by cutting scenes from other films into 'The Dreamers'. 'Top Hat', 'Freaks' and 'Queen Christina' all make an appearance, the most effective being when Bertolucci cuts between his film and footage from Jean-Luc Godard's 'Bande A Part' (1964) as Matthew, Theo and Isabelle try to beat the record for running the length of The Louvre set by Godard's characters. A well-chosen soundtrack - Hendrix, Joplin et al - further underlines the nostalgia which permeates 'The Dreamers'.
Dealing more with the personal than the politic, this is another of
Bertolucci's intensely romantic films, complete with a beautiful - and very talented - cast who spend the majority of their time au naturel, breezily unselfconscious in their nudity. A love letter to cinema, the Paris of 1968 and firm young flesh, 'The Dreamers' is entertaining and sophisticated, a visual feast of a film.