Dreamers, The (UK/France/Italy/USA; 116 min.)


directed by: Bernardo Bertolucci
starring: Michael Pitt; Eva Green; Louis Garrel
The Dreamers
 

Hilary says: "Just a few words on Bernardo Bertolucci's latest effort, THE DREAMERS: silly, pretentious, and unsexy."

 
Janet says: "I had not intended to see this film, but today was so gray, and I was numbingly bored with both the inside of my home and my own face in the mirror that I had to get out. I knew that seeing THE DREANERS would at least provide visual stimuli in the form of attractive French interiors and fresh, young, unfamiliar faces. Maybe I would get a new idea on how to tie a scarf. That's how desperate I was. I was not disappointed on these accounts; the rest of the film lived up to my mild expectations.

"As you know, THE DREAMERS is about a naive young Californian who gets pulled into an incestuous triangle with a Parisian brother and sister (all three of them cinephiles) during the Sixties, against a backdrop of protests of the Vietnam War. There is a definite air of epater les bourgeois here, not only in sexual mores but in terms of simple hygiene, as the sex bubbles up in a potage of urine, toothpaste, and menstrual blood.

"As regards insight into human nature (I can't help it---others may look for cinematography or musical score, but insight into human nature is the little thing I can't do without) I didn't find much, so the sexual behavior I am regarding as symbolic rather than believable. The incest and masturbation, one assumes, are meant to signal a reluctance to engage with the outer world. Fine. Still, the film's intended shock, for me, was dulled by irritation as I saw the aging great Bertolucci fail to go where others
(hello, Kubrick) had failed to go before. As in EYES WIDE SHUT, there's sex everywhere, but the woman's body is displayed 600 times more than the men's are, and the story flinchingly steps away from a male-on-male encounter that seems inevitable. (Though I did feel a little funny after the film when a woman asked me what I had thought of it and my immediate response was 'I thought the two men should have slept together.')

"The second human-nature stumbling block was an ineffective scene in which the siblings' parents discover what they've been up to, and tiptoe away. The reactions were so muted that it was hard to know what the writer and director intended, so I chalked it up to symbolism again. (The parents' denial compounds the family's reluctance to engage with the outside world?) Michael Pitt as the American, Matthew, has an Elvis-like sullenness but is bland and unexpressive. The performances of Louis Garrel and Eva Green as the brother and sister are more confident, versatile, and finely shaded. No cats for anyone involved with the film."