Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

When Bernardo Bertolucciís controversial Ď The Dreamersí was first released a few years back I didnít get the chance to see it, mainly because I was years away from receiving my Film Critics Player card and still had pay for movies on my own dime.  Which sucks.  Plus, considering it received an NC-17 rating, this meant it wasn't showing at a Star-theater any time soon either, meaning it was doomed to play at those odd little art theaters with the odd people who go there, drink complex coffees, drop French names, dress poorly but yet are fairly convinced they are better than you are.  Not my crowd.  However, it recently popped back up in my memory and I decided to see if an uncut version was available to rent from my good olí Netflix, and lo and behold it was.  But now, seeing as how I have seen Kirby Dickís outstanding doc ĎThis Film is not yet ratedí, I was able to presuppose exactly what landed Mr. Bertoulucciís film the dreaded NC-17 anchor.  What I now know from Mr. Dicks documentary is that the MPAA doesnít like homosexuality, and there wasnít any of that in ĎThe Dreamersí, not really.  Homosexual suggestion perhaps, but no outright homosexuality.  The MPAA really hates pubic hair, and there was plenty of that to be seen in the film.  But what really seems to put a bugaboo on the MPAA is penis.  Man, if you show a dick in your film, you can almost rest assured that youíre get snag and NC-17 rating, and the movie showed us a penis.  The hymen blood scene probably didnít help matters either.

ĎThe Dreamersí tells the tale of a young American named Matthew who has traveled to France in the late 1960ís to see the world a bit and garner some experiences outside his staid San Diego upbringing.  Obviously this is one the most tumultuous times in, not only in American history, but the history of the world as phenomenal social, economic, racial and political changes were occurring as an uncle of mine insists on reminding

me.  Matthew has found refuge in a French cinema where as a film buff he can lose himself in his fantasies and dreams.  His life takes a turn for the significant better when he meets the beautiful Isabelle (Eva Green), who has chained herself to the cinema in protest.  Isabelle introduces Matthew to her leftist twin brother Theo (Louis Garrel) and the tree young people with the deep love of cinema form a fast, tight friendship.

The twins invite Matthew to stay at their chateau when their parents leave town and here the young American observes that brother and sister are really, really close.  Really close.  Matthew spies brother and sister sleeping in the same bed nude, concludes what he believes is the obvious, but they are not so close where they canít include a third person into their tight enclave.  So Matthew, Isabelle and Theo spend their time discussing life, or at least life as it relates to a twenty year old, loving each other, fighting, and living against the backdrop of intense social change and violence in 1960ís France.

I love the way that Bertolucci set up and crafted the narrative with his young actors, and the awesome atmosphere that they inhabited.  All three leads were very charismatic in their roles, and there was a very believable chemistry between the three of them which managed to carry throughout the film.  The dialog was witty and snappy, and I enjoyed the way the language bounced in between French and English, and the arguments that these young people had, the same arguments that young people have had since time immemorial, such as who was a greater actor.  In this instance it was Keaton or Chaplin, or whoís the better guitar player?  Clapton or Hendricks.  All of this word play and atmosphere had me captivated for the first half of the film.

But then they started screwing.  I tell you, when they started having sex the focus of the movie changed, the flow of the movie changed, the direction of the movie changed, and none for the better as far as I was concerned.  Perhaps this was the point, a graphic illustration of what happens when sex is introduced to the formula and how it pretty much messes everything up.  Now donít misread me here, as probably anybody who has seen this film, or at least anybody who has seen this film who likes looking at women, was waiting for actress Eva Green to hurry up and take her shirt off.  And if you say otherwise youíre lying.   Even though I canít quantify this, when Ms. Green did finally get naked, I feel as if my life somehow improved.  But though looking at Eva Green nude was cool and all, the introduction of all of the lewdness certainly changed the tone of a film that I was immensely enjoying into one that had me scratching my head.  I comprehend that it did help to accentuate the pathology of the twins relationship, but with everything that was going on in the periphery, it just jumbled the issues.

Well the sixties must of been something for those of you who fortunate enough to live through them, and Bertolucci certainly must have had some fun his own damn self in the lavish way he was able to recreate the times.  And maybe itís a sign of me getting old that Iíd rather hear terse political discussion than watch people having sex, but thatís pretty much where I stand with his film ĎThe Dreamersí.   Yep, definitely a sign that Iím getting old.

Real Time Web