The Dreamers (2003)
The Wet Dreamers Maybe
Yes, I'm drunk. And you're beautiful. And tomorrow morning, I'll be sober but you'll still be beautiful - Matthew
"The Dreamers" is a movie for movie intellectuals; those who like the characters of Theo, Isabelle and Matthew like to debate movies, discuss classic scenes and approach the medium from an artistic point of view. As such director Bernardo Bertolucci turns a coming of age movie set against a turbulent time into a multi layered movie which can be dissected and discussed till the proverbial cows come home. But does all of this make "The Dreamers" any good, well it's a well made movie, crafted with some beautiful scenes, a nice soundtrack and impressive performances but unless you are in to the over analysis of movies it's not very entertaining. Well it's not very entertaining unless you're a teenage boy who gets off on the nudity, masturbation and sex scenes and there are plenty of these scenes which go beyond being risqué and border on the soft porn.
Whilst spending the year in Paris to learn French, American Matthew (Michael Pitt - Murder by Numbers) meets fellow film lovers twins Isabelle (Eva Green - Casino Royale) and Theo (Louis Garrel) at a demonstration at their favourite cinema. Drawn together via their love of cinema Matthew moves in with them whilst their parents are away for a month. But with a French revolution going on in the real world, Isabelle and Theo draw Matthew into their alternate world of debate, nudity and sex. Despite initial reluctance to play a part in their sexual games he finally succumbs but continually finds the surreal world they create a bit too surreal.
If you were to strip "The Dreamers" down to its bare bones it is just a coming of age movie as a young American in Paris discovers a more liberated side to life through a friendship he forms with twins at the same time doing some growing up. As such it is a movie which delves into the world of sex, plenty of it as these trio of friends explore a very unconventional relationship as brother and sister sleep naked together, all 3 share a bath as well as various sexual liaisons. But "the Dreamers" is as you would expect dressed up to be something more as these three friends debate politics, music and movies as young men and women do. At the same time as all of this coming of age action happens there is a backdrop of civil unrest in France fuelling the debate and being set in the 60s this liberated freedom of sexual exploration.
The thing is that all of this seems quite self indulgent as Bertolucci focuses on the sexual games which these trio of friends play almost seeing how much he can get away with before going too far not just for those who dish out movie certificates but also the audience. Now maybe younger audiences will find all the nudity, sex scenes and masturbation entertaining but for me Bertolucci takes it too far as scenes border on the pornographic. Not that I am some prude, Eva Green naked is not an ugly sight but there is so much focus on sex that it almost feels like it's getting in the way of telling a much more interesting story.
Of course for me when I watch a movie my first need is to be entertained and to be honest "The Dreamers" failed to achieve that. But it seems that with "The Dreamers" Bertolucci wasn't interested in making a movie that entertains on a primal level but one which provides areas of discussion. As such those who like to discuss the minute detail of a movie, comparing it to great movies and appreciating it as you may appreciate a fine piece of art will no doubt be enthralled. In many ways, with the trio of friends all being cinema buffs, "The Dreamers" is a movie for their equals who enjoy the debate more than they enjoy the entertainment.
What though is a surprise are the impressive performances especially considering the amount of nudity the three young stars had to display. Michael Pitt, looking so much like Leonardo DiCaprio, probably intentional as DiCaprio was offered the role, is impressive as Matthew the outsider brought into this rather strange brother sister relationship. He displays an edginess as he is befriended, followed by fear which merges into liberation as he joins in with their sex games before regaining some sort of control. In many ways it's such a shame that it all comes over a bit too much like DiCaprio as I am sure Pitt could have made it more unique.
Then there is Eva Green as Isabelle who I will say again is not an unpleasant site when walking around naked but get past that and she creates this fascinating character with an inner vulnerability. On face value she appears as deviant as her twin brother Theo almost relishing the dangerous games they all play yet there is a traditional femininity which she exudes one who wants normality. With Louis Garrel delivering just as interesting character in Theo the trio of young stars make "The Dreamers" watch able for those who just want entertainment on the simplest level.
What this all boils down to is that "The Dreamers" is very much a movie for those who love movies, not on an entertainment level but on an intellectual level. It has layer upon layer of sub context allowing those who love to discuss a deliberate plenty to work with. But from a pure entertainment point of view it's all rather dull and even the various sex scenes and nudity fails to make any more than a well made, indulgent coming of age movie.
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