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fine film-making overcomes flaws
Roland E. Zwick3 October 2004
'The Dreamers' is Bernardo Bertolucci's bizarre and fascinating (if not altogether successful) distillation of the radical '60's mentality. Since the film is set in Paris in 1968, the radicalism naturally takes the form of perverted sexuality and extreme cinephilia. Leave it to the French to be exploring l'amour in all its myriad possibilities!

In terms of plotting, 'The Dreamers' is much like an incestuous version of Truffaut's menage a trois classic 'Jules and Jim,' with the new film's subject matter as shocking today as was the earlier film's in its own time. Time and culture sure do march on, and it always seems to be the French leading the way. In 'The Dreamers,' Isabelle (Eva Green) and Theo (Louis Garrel) are twins who have developed a rather 'unnatural' attraction to one another, becoming 'one' in virtually every way imaginable - physically, spiritually, psychically. Matthew (Michael Pitt, who looks for all the world like Leonardo Di Caprio) is the young American in Paris whom they pull into their strange little world of sexual intrigue and emotional games. Matthew is a product of his time, a young man who is not very experienced in the ways of the world but who is willing to partake in the moral relativism that is permeating the culture. Thus, he becomes the perfect candidate for Isabelle and Theo to work their magic on. Their power of attraction proves overwhelming and irresistible for Matthew, for they are both exotically beautiful creatures, seemingly in tune with the trendy radicalism swirling around them. Yet, Mathew eventually discovers that they are really only passive observers paying little but lip service to the cause, too obsessed with their own twisted relationship to actually step out and participate in those grand social movements they talk so freely about. Isabelle and Theo are 'radicals' to be sure, yet their radicalism seems to be channeled in a self-destructive, ultimately futile direction. Only over time does Matthew awaken to this realization.

Due to the extremely sensitive nature of the subject matter, Bertolucci often seems more interested in shocking than enlightening us. Isabelle, Theo and Matthew are so insulated and cut off from the outside world that the points Bertolucci seemingly wants to make about the times - as reflected in protesters marching in the streets, the references to Vietnam, Mao and Jimmy Hendrix - feel tacked on and superfluous, not particularly integral to the film as a whole. He is never quite able to bring these background elements and the foreground story together in any meaningful way. What Bertolucci does capture well is the obsessive love the French have always had for the cinema as both entertainment and art form. His characters live, breathe and think films, often acting out favorite scenes while the director intercuts snippets from the movies themselves. The beautiful thing about the French is that they have always had such an eclectic taste in film, embracing both American studio and French New Wave products with equal passion. And this artistic open-mindedness Bertolucci captures with gleeful abandon. The film, in many ways, becomes an homage to Chaplin and Keaton, Astaire and Rogers, Samuel Fuller, Truffaut, Godard, Greta Garbo and many other icons of movie history.

'The Dreamers' doesn't entirely hold together and the sum of its parts is better than the whole. Still, the acting is excellent and Bertolucci has lost none of his skills as a director, making each beautifully composed shot stand for something - a real treat for audiences bored to tears by the kind of by-the-numbers film-making we get so often today. Bertolucci is a true film artist and it is a joy just to sit and watch what he does with his actors and his camera, like a master painter working wonders with his canvas.

As for the much-vaunted sexual content of the film (it is rated NC-17), certainly those who are easily offended by nudity and provocative sexual themes had best avoid subjecting themselves to this film. Those, however, with a more open mind will find little that is overtly offensive about what is shown here. In fact, if Isabelle and Theo weren't brother and sister, there would be little controversy at all generated by the film. My suspicion is that Bertolucci and writer Gilbert Adair made their film about incest because an ordinary love triangle would have seemed just too commonplace in this day and age to serve as a successful plot device for a film whose very theme centers around radicalism. They really needed to shake the audience up and this was as effective a way as any to do that. Whether it repels more people than it compels is something only time will tell.

As it is, 'The Dreamers' is not an entirely successful film, but those impressed by fine film-making had best not pass it up.
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Sex, Cinema, Politics - A True Molotov Cocktail
Radu Olievschi20 July 2004
The decor for The Dreamers, Bertolucci's sensual and narcotic film is represented by effervescent moments that took place in Paris in 1968. In the same manner in which the house inhabited by the three main protagonists represents a character, so do the Parisian streets, with their trepidation and demonstrations. Contrary to other films directed by this director - who has promised much and delivered even more throughout his career - The Dreamers opens in a fast-paced and provocative manner. The director establishes the cinematic convention precisely, eloquently, and elegantly. It becomes clear that the film deals with furious and beautiful young people who live through the films they devour. In the first five minutes, the heroine of the picture (played impeccably by Eva Green, a theatre actress reminiscent of Isabella Rossellini) announces that she was born in 1959. Logically, it is impossible, seeing that the year is 1968 and she seems to be at least 19 years old. Therefore, she explains further: 1959, Champs-Elysee, where she yelled "New York Herald Tribune!" Suddenly the film cuts to a scene from the classic Breathless (A bout de soufflé) by Godard, where Belmondo's feminine partner sells American newspapers on Champs-Elysee. Consequently, Bertolucci's feminine character believes that she has not been alive until seeing the afore-mentioned film, considered by many the beginning of the New Wave. The idea of interposing images and references to classic films is augmented in The Dreamers. It becomes a means of communication between the characters and in fact it ignites the entire "action" of the film.

As in The Last Tango in Paris or Stealing Beauty, sex and sensuality also represent means of expression on which the director relies heavily. Yet The Dreamers rejects the desperation of The Last Tango through a seductive irreverence that indeed characterizes the so-called "enfants terrible" of 1968 Paris. It should be noted that The Dreamers contains various sexual and nude scenes, but that these are by no means as shocking as the sex scenes in The Last Tango were, when that film was released in the 1960s. Since then, video and Internet pornography have occurred and shocking audiences through nudity has become something of a moot point. It is only the MPAA that hasn't grown up. It gave The Dreamers basically the same rating that The Last Tango got, 30 years ago.

Undoubtedly, the angles of the shots in The Dreamers are what impresses the most. As in other films by Bertolucci, practically every shot could be cut out and studied hours at an end for its elegance. The three main characters (all played beyond reproach) live their menage-a-trois through concrete gestures and attitudes, as well as through emotions that are suggested by the sublime cinematography.

The ending of the film, considered by some critics a weak point, is in fact quite accomplished. American viewers (including some critics) are used to American films, in which the build-up leading to the climax is essentially dynamic, suspenseful or tragic. But the European cinema is different. It often shows how feelings are condensed in a quiet but explosive mixture. This description fits The Dreamers like a glove.

Finally, a note for film buffs. In the initial scenes, at the demonstration in front of the Cinematheque, Bertolucci used news reel footage from the '60s with Jean-Pierre Leaud si Jean-Pierre Kalfon (known actors of the New Wave). They are seen giving speeches and throwing paper leaflets to the crowd. In 2003, when shooting the film, Bertolucci got Leaud and Kalfon, now aged, to "reenact" the images from the news reels. The end result is a mixture of new and old images, the former in color, the latter black and white. It is such tricks that Bertolucci uses throughout this nostalgic film that celebrates a certain period, during which the young generation had more meaningful things to fight than computer-simulated monsters.
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All dreamers must eventually wake up
cs10010 March 2004
My rating: 6/10

There are two types of dreamers in `The Dreamers': the three main characters, who create their own interior world and prefer to view the outside world by watching classic 1930s cinema; and the socialist street revolutionaries of riot-torn 1968 Paris, who attempt to overthrow the political and economic power structure. `The Dreamers' focuses more on the former than the latter, and Bernardo Bertolucci is careful to leave his film open to interpretation, but ultimately the dream world of the three main characters is shattered by the realities of life. The film ends before resolving the outcome of the second set of dreamers, but we all know our history. Some may think it a shame that the dreamers fail, but others like myself will view it as something that has to happen, if the dream is unrealistic and unsustainable.

The relationship between the three main characters is unlike anything that I've ever seen portrayed on film. The twins, Isabelle and Theo, are almost as close to each other in young adulthood as they were during the nine months they spent together in their mother's womb. Matthew, a U.S. student studying abroad in Paris, inserts himself into the middle, and when he receives early indications that portend the depth of the relationship between the twins, he does not run away. To me, this required too much suspension of disbelief, but I'm certainly aware that others have different proclivities. If Bertolucci's intent was to show a high degree of separation between his three dreamers and the rest of society, he certainly succeeded.

The three dreamers have some, but ultimately too little, awareness of their separation from reality and the unsustainable nature of the world they create. While sympathizing with the revolutionaries in the street, they actually are the ultimate materialistic consumers: they produce nothing that they consume (neither food nor art), and when the money their parents provide runs out, and they've drained most of the wine cellar, the harsh realities of life set in. Rooting through trash heaps isn't the answer, and the choices that they leave themselves in the end (self-annihilation or nihilism), I believe, show just how flawed their ideal world is. My interpretation is that this lesson also applies to the other set of dreamers, the street revolutionaries, but those who even today sympathize with the views of those revolutionaries will reject this interpretation.

`The Dreamers' is very voyeuristic, and Bertolucci puts his three leads through some incredibly intimate moments. All three leads are quite good, with Eva Green in particular deserving special notice for a completely uninhibited performance (at least the two male leads had each other's example to follow). It's hard to come up with an accurate overall rating for this film, because I think there will be a widespread variance in how different people react to both the storyline and the images. Read the reviews carefully, and if it sounds like something that interests and won't shock you, then give it a try. My middle-of-the-road rating is mainly due to my not being terribly interested in the type of relationship formed by the three main characters.
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Cinema, sex, politics, and Bertolucci...
fdpedro23 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Some people think Bernardo Bertolucci could be placed among Italy's other great directors such as Fellini, Leone, or DeSica. But there are still people out there who never forgave him from LITTLE BUDDHA, or that thought LAST TANGO IN Paris was overrated soft-core porn. His latest film, THE DREAMERS, might be misunderstood as a film about the 1968 student riots in Paris. It's not. Instead, it uses 1968 Paris as a backdrop for the triangular relationship of a naïve American with a pair of incestuous French twins.

Young and innocent Matthew (Michael Pitt) just arrived in Paris from San Diego in order to study the French language, but finds himself attending to the Cinematheque Francais instead. 'Only the French would build a movie theater in a palace,' he states in his narration. As he spends his vacation inside screening room with chain-smoking New Wave pioneers, the student riots start breaking out and he ends up meeting twins Isabelle (Eva Green) and Theo (Louis Garrel), who both are very similar to Matthew except that they are… hmmm… very French. After engaging interesting conversations that range from Nicholas Roeg to rock n' roll, they all start bounding up as friends and the twins invite him over to their apartment for dinner.

Theo and Isabelle's apartment consists of the stereotypical French family: They all smoke like chimneys and mom and dad (Anna Chancellor and Robin Renucci) are poets who love to talk about art and philosophy. When Matthew learns the parents are leaving for a month and that he can stay with the twins in the apartment for all this time, he finds himself in heaven. But things are far from heaven. He soon sees Isabelle and Theo have an unhealthy closure: They bathe together, sleep together, and masturbate in front of each other. Is there something going on or are they just too European?

At first Matthew is disgusted by their behavior, but the sexual tension between him and Isabelle (and to some extent, Theo) soon wins over. This is Bertolucci we're talking about, after all! The apartment eventually becomes one filthy, inhabitable place and the kids can barely survive. They run out of food, money, and are close enough to fall asleep in a bathtub and wake up dipped in menstrual blood. You would expect the story could take a LORD OF THE FLIES approach of turning the twins into psychopath savages, but screenwriter Gilbert Adair (who based the movie upon his novel) gives us a much more interesting story to watch.

These kids are, like many of us, movie buffs and spend their time challenging each other on identifying film references. The punishment for not knowing how the famous assassination scene in SCARFACE turns out to be sexual interplay between the characters. Is that a punishment? The discussions in the apartment cover sex, cinema, music, and politics. So you have the kids discussing who is funnier: Keaton of Chaplin? Who plays the guitar better: Hendrix or Clapton? Is the Vietnam War right? But my favorite is weather or not Maoism is the way to go. Theo describes Maoism as an epic movie with thousands of idealistic thinkers carrying their little red books and revolting. But Matthew adds that it would not be a very engaging epic since everyone carrying the little red book would speak the same dialogue, wear the same clothes, have the same characteristics. They wouldn't be characters, they would be extras. It's in moments like these where the actors really shine. Eva Green in particular is a true charming revelation and it's a shame Fernando Meirelles wasn't able to cast her in THE CONSTANT GARDENER like he wanted to.

Bertolucci isolates the characters from the events happening in the streets as much as he can, keeping the camera (for most of the time) inside the apartment. It's not enough to call the film a Dogma 95 sell-out, but it's really engaging and quite different from what you would expect from the director of THE LAST EMPEROR. The movie is called THE DREAMERS because the kids live inside their little mystical cocoon isolated from life and not doing anything about the problems they discuss. Matthew is the only one who seems to realize how immature it all is and how sick the incestuous relation between Theo and Isabelle makes him feel, unlike the usual 'Europeans are way cooler than Americans' stereotype you would expect from these cultural clash topics. Once the violent revolts start kicking in and the kids' orgy cocoon is shattered by the stone breaking the window, they eventually join the riots. But that is when Matthew finally realizes he will never convince the twins to change their nature.

The film was rated NC-17 in America by the MPAA. So it's okay to show Jesus Christ being slowly killed for two-hours, but a… gasp… a penis is truly outrageous! The NC-17 rating truly killed the film from getting any kind of attention it deserved since Americans still confuse it with pornographic material. We all know that rating systems across the world are different. In America, sex is seen as a more serious taboo than violence while 14 year olds can see this film in Italy and the French gave it a -12 rating. It's not only sex however, the French slasher film HAUTE TENSION was recently given the NC-17 tag also, and for violence. While I know the MPAA will never change their ways, I really think it's time they grew up and decide to create a new rating in-between R and NC-17 showing the this film is intended for adults only. Similar to what they did when RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK came out. America really needs a complete ratings make-over and the MPAA should really think of replacing their team with people who actually know right from wrong. Otherwise, brilliant films like these will keep getting overlooked in the future.

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A romantic confession of a great filmmaker
theachilles1 August 2004
Paris, May 1968. Revolution breaks out and the world seems to be in a critical turning point, but inside the four walls of an apartment, three youngsters experience their very own revolution.

Yes, it's true. In the year 2004, one of the best cinematic experiences is offered by Bertolucci. Many are those who'd thought that he had nothing more to give, but with THE DREAMERS, the creator is reborn and next to his heroes he witnesses again the passage from adolescence and innocence to the age of responsibilities. A great fan of cinema himself, he doesn't hesitate to pay a number of tributes, just like Godard used to do in the past and Tarantino very recently. As he puts his view into the eyes of his protagonists, the girl and the boys seem to live inside the movies they adore. They're playing with lines from known films, they imitate characters, they put themselves into the sequences they love.

Despite their young age, all three actors not only do they show that they're worth of starring in a Bertolucci film, but they also go even further giving in every scene the necessary vividness and realistic tension. Ignoring the cosmogony taking place in the streets, they surrender to their own cosmogonic changes, to the wild sexual awakening, to the game between friendship and love, pleasure and pain. Eventually they commit themselves to the struggle between the game itself and real life. And that's where the heroes violently return in the thrilling final sequences in order to face their duty towards history.

THE DREAMERS is by far one the best motion pictures of the year, so daring but at the same time so energetic that seems able to touch anyone as a pure and romantic confession of a great filmmaker.
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The Dreamers
FilmFanatic094 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The characters of "The Dreamers" love movies. They pass their time quoting them, reenacting scenes from them, and debating age-old questions such as the merits of Chaplin versus Keaton. When at the cinema, they make sure to sit in the rows closest to the screen. Why? So the images will reach them before anyone else, while still fresh. If this strikes you as illogical, perhaps "The Dreamers" isn't the movie for you. This is a film about film lovers and will likely be most appreciated by lovers of film in return. The basic narrative follows Matthew, a young American (the boyish Michael Pitt), who is studying in Paris during the late 60s, the time of the student riots. The film does a good job of setting up the loneliness which engulfs him in this foreign place, so we are quick to understand why he so eagerly accepts the offer to stay with French twins Isabelle and Theo (Eva Green and Louis Garrel) he has met at- where else?- the cinema.

As the three take up life in their spacious Parisian flat, vacated by the twins' parents while abroad, Matthew senses that something about these two is a bit off. It isn't long before he is aware of the incestuous undertones constantly present in the twins' interactions with one another. In attempting to confirm that their relationship does have some degree of limitations, Matthew questions Isabelle, receiving the chilling response, "He is always inside of me." It may be reassuring to Matthew, as well as many audience members, that no, these characters never sleep together in the literal sense. What is at work here is something much more difficult to explain. The film handles it well. Eventually, in an attempt to break Isabelle out of her self-inflicted dependency on her brother, Matthew asks her on a date, which proves to be the most joyfully innocent moment of the film. From here, things turn slightly ambiguous and the film opts to relinquish the personal, in favor of a more political ending. It is interesting to note the closing credits run over chanteuse Edith Piaf's "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" (No, I Regret Nothing). If we knew whether or not this was chosen in irony, a lot would be explained.

One can't help compare "The Dreamers" to Bertolucci's other Parisian-set exploration of erotica, "Last Tango in Paris." That film contained two lovers who were very much dead inside. "The Dreamers" contains three who are filled with youthful exuberance and have seemingly endless passion for things such as politics and the arts. Both films are frank and graphic in how they depict sex. As a matter of course, both stirred much controversy. I suspect many people will watch "The Dreamers" already expecting to be incensed by it. That is their loss. For those who are willing, "The Dreamers" can be a changing experience. What exactly it changes, however, is certainly bound to vary from person to person. Perhaps it will force you to reconsider your political outlook. Possibly it will alter how you view societally unacceptable relationships. Conceivably it could lead you to the realization of just how great an impact the films have on some people and their existence. Or maybe it will change your stance on who really was better: Chaplin or Keaton?

Side note: I found it endlessly refreshing to find a film where characters spoke in their native language when appropriate, and the audience was forced to make-do with subtitles.
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Only real film lovers will understand – and love – this work of art
Benedict_Cumberbatch5 August 2005
"The Dreamers" is one of Bernardo Bertolucci's most underrated films. A mesmerizing love declaration for The Cinema, this unforgettable film must be discovered.

In 1968, 19-year-old American Matthew (Michael Pitt), while settling in Paris for studying French, meets two equally young, beautiful and liberal film buffs: the twins Isabelle (Eva Green, another Bertolucci's luminous discovery, like he did with Liv Tyler in "Stealing Beauty") and Theo (Louis Garrel, son of French director Philippe Garrel and the best of the cast). The twins' parents travel, and Matthew is invited to join the attractive duo in their apartment. He accepts the invitation, of course, and the threesome starts a bizarre game of seduction with a charming leitmotiv: riddles about classic films. Who doesn't know the right answer, has to do what he/she is asked to. In the background, student riots in defense of Henri Langlois and his merit on the Cinémathèque Française are breaking out on the streets.

The film is superb, artistically and technically. Bertolucci is top-notch, the soundtrack is overwhelming (with songs by Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Édith Piaf, among others), and the cinematography (by Fabio Cianchetti) is one of the best, if not the best, I've seen recently. Gilbert Adair, we can't forget, did an excellent job adapting his novel, "The Holy Innocents", to the big screens. The sex/full frontal scenes and amorality can shock some people, this is definitely not a film for all tastes (as almost all masterpieces), but those who are open-minded and admire good cinema, will be entranced. The ending is one of the most surprising, original and brilliant I've ever seen, but, unfortunately, not everyone will get it. That's a crying shame, but original films tend to be misunderstood. "The Dreamers" is no exception.

A must-see to all film lovers. My vote is 10.
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One of the Best Movies of the Year
Claudio Carvalho19 July 2005
In 1968, while living in Paris for learning French, the nineteen years old American Matthew (Michael Pitt) meets the also film lovers, amoral and incestuous twins Isabelle (Eva Green) and Theo (Louis Garrel) in the "Cinémathèque Française" in the Palais de Chaillot and they become best friends. They stay together in the twin's apartment, while many social protests are arising on the streets of Paris.

"The Dreamers" has been released on DVD in Brazil a couple of months ago, and it certainly is one of the best movies of the year. The story conflicts the dreams of three youngsters, who breathe and see the world through the cinema, and the reality of life, on the social movements on streets of Paris. The stone through the window of their apartment is a metaphor of the awakening of Isabelle and Theo. The direction is superb, the cinematography and camera are amazing, the erotic story having the background of true events is delightful and the performance of the cast is perfect. The beauty of the unknown Eva Green is very impressive, and I really recommend this outstanding movie. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): "Os Sonhadores" ("The Dreamers")
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A Bertolucci pet project
George Parker14 July 2004
"The Dreamers" is all about three young adult upscale hippy types who languish in a flat in Paris in the late 60's and talk about cinema, politics, sex, and other stuff while sharing some first experiences. Two are brother (Garrel) and sister (Green) identical twins (or so we're told) who have an almost metaphysical bond and the third is an interloper (Pitt) who falls in lust with the sister. There's little plot to this slice of young adult life flick which seems to be more of a Bertolucci pet project than a commercial product for the masses. Less than engaging and much less than compelling, "The Dreamers" immerses itself in the esoterics of the place and time to the exclusion of anyone who wasn't there then. Beautifully filmed and masterfully crafted with some young actors doing superb work under difficult circumstances with plenty of graphic nudity and sex, "The Dreamers" will play best with aficionados of French cinema, Bertolucci fans, etc. Those who are squeamish about sex/nudity should pass. All others, be prepared for a marginally interesting watch. (B)
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Bertolucci has made a remarkable film!
boyan-denizov19 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Yesterday I watched "Dreamers".I admit i had had prejudices about the film.I have seen "Last tango..." and I did not like it(check my comments about it)but this film is much more mature.Although it is about 2 hours i didn't feel bored.The shooting is brilliant,the dialogues are very well-written.All three leading actors play very emotionally and convincingly,bearing in mind their youth and relative inexperience.There are many aspects of life mixed in this film and analyzed deeply and intelligently:coming of age,America vs.France in the field of culture,history(the riots and complexities of 1968 Paris revolution),the radicalism of young people and their uneasy relations with their parents and of course the phenomenon of cinema(not only the pluses of it but its minuses too)I admire Bertolucci's bravery in putting this aspect of cinema as a problem to be discussed-that sometimes cinema not so much REFLECTS life rather than REPLACES it.Even Isabelle's attempted suicide is theatrical and indeed the brother and sister's infatuation with cinema prevents them from growing into mature personalities,from leading a more"real" life.This film is so rich and complex that it should be a subject of a medium article and not just of a comment like this one.I would rate it 7 out of 10.I would have given an even higher mark had it not been about the incest theme which I find superfluous and disgusting and ultimately unnecessary and had it not been on the too-graphic to my taste sexual scenes and showing of male and female genitalia.Here in Bulgaria it is not recommended for people under 16 which I think is correct as young people may accept this film in a wrong way. I am sure this film will be perceived as one of the most interesting artistic achievements of the last several years.
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When Politics, sex, films and books are all united.....
Jessica Carvalho12 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Based on Gilbert Adair's novel'' The Holy Innocents'', ''The Dreamers'' is a very different movie from the conventional ones I am used to watch. Isabelle and Theo, the twins, has a very intimate relationship for brothers that I don't understand very well and Matthew, their new American friend (and lover) starts to accept the way they are and fall in love with both of them. One thing I need to complain about the movie, is the hypocrisy that I read in the trivia section, saying that if they show Matthew's and Theo's relationship it might have been "too much'' for the public, but Theo and Isabelle, that are brother and sister, can sleep together and have the most unusual behavior of all. I don't agree with that and if I needed to choose something that would ''shock'' someone, an ambiguous relationship between brothers would be much more shocking then a gay relationship.

Anyway, Matthew is a young American exchange student that came to Paris in order to study French. The year is 1968, and he easily become friend of the twins Isabelle and Theo, since they three love to watch movies.

As their friendship grows, Matthew learns of the extreme intimacy shared by Isabelle and Theo and enters into their world. First he falls for Isabelle for later also love Theo, and the three seclude themselves from the world, falling further and further from the reality of the 1968 student riots.
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Smug nonsense
tom-120315 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
At first it looked like this film could be fun but its shortcomings were so blatant that after about the first half hour the only enjoyment you can get out of it is by carping and criticising and making witty sideswipes to your friends (opportunities for which are plentiful).

The French student riots of 1968 are established as the backdrop at the start of the film, and are crudely re-inserted at the very end. Through the main body of the plot that background's completely irrelevant, except that sporadically one of the main characters will read out a few lines of political philosophy to each other.

The main plot is an awkward "three's a crowd" sexual coming-of-age story, where the wide-eyed American Matthew, naive to the point of self-parody, inserts himself into the incestuous relationship between two Parisians. Isabelle, as is typically the case in this sort of set-up, isn't really a protagonist but gets pulled between the two men who act as poles. The thing that offends me about the whole incest story is not, like most people who disliked the film, that I've got a moral objection, but the fact that it fails to develop in any way. We've got Theo, straight out of a nineteenth century opium den, being withdrawn and arrogant, and when he can't get his way through intimidation occasionally tries to strangle people. Then we've got Matthew who is distressingly earnest and comes up with sickening things all the time along the lines of "we're all connected", "love is the greatest force" but apparently has no objection to sitting in the bath with Theo having smug, ill-informed political debates and throwing menstrual blood around.

None of it makes any sense. Isabelle and Theo are testing the boundaries of sexual norms in their corrupt bohemian boudoir and they choose to involve the completely incongruous Matthew. Why? - because he likes films, you see, and they need someone to run around the Louvre with them. Predictably Matthew, who thinks this is all larks for a while, soon enough tries to persuade Isabelle that sleeping with your brother is well, pretty wrong, you see, and girls your age should be going out with a boy to the cinema, drinking cherryade and paying for it by putting out a bit in the back row. But Theo, who's read about Mao Tse Tung don't you know, isn't to keen on this injection of capitalist bourgeois morality separating him from his big-breasted sister.

So what does the film turn into - it's basically Matthew trying to make a 2-hour porn film with Isabelle, but having to appease Theo by occasionally getting into the bath with him and making arguments so desperately crass that Theo looks like an intellectual. Really this is an appalling hatchet job of a film, I've seen pornos with better characterisation and more subtle socio-political debates than this. Each of the three stars I've given belong to a part of Eva Green's (Isabelle's) anatomy.
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What precedes dreaming is deep sleep
n2j324 January 2004
Warning: Spoilers

Is Bernardo Bertollucci showing his age in this mediocrity or is his reactionary outlook laid bare? "The Dreamers" is bad cinema at its best. The parisian setting of "that" 1968 spring is but an excuse for an essentially superficial commentary.Prior to watching it i read a review that portrayed the film as 'an account of the sexually perplexed life of three characters and their contemporary (political?) worries.' So far so good. As the reel unfolded I managed to identify four (4) points of contention that could double as 'worries' [i.e. arguments/points relevant to the undoubtedly turbulent setting]

1. The pseudo-philosophical ramblings of Matthew (Michael Pitt) in the avec parents dinner where a Zippo(tm) lighter serves as the vehicle of a wholistic expose [we're all part of a bigger plan, everything's in total harmony etc.]Interesting. [heh]

2. An evocation of Vietnam in a dialogue between Theo [Louis Garrel] and Matthew. Again, simplification at its best. Americans kill villagers vs. Americans are obligated to join the army. [Similar to Southpark's "Drugs are bad...mkay?"]

3. A critique of communism that would make Western cold war propaghandists stutter. (Mao as the director of a cast of "extras" etc.)

4. A vague 'respect' for Cinema [note the capital C] that materialises in the 3D pictionary the characters enjoy playing [in the form of "guess the film" etc]. So long for French film theory and critique [film theory was incedentally at its peak around that time];)

Even if we disregard the setting (afterall, it could have been set in 80s Paris for all that matters) and focus on the story itself [the three lovers etc] we see the dynamic of this threesome numbed; just when their relationship is about to get out of hand Matthew makes sure to remind Isabelle [Eva Green] the merits of monogamous "dating" and sharing a glass of soda etc. 1/10
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Poetically brave and challenging.
ks413 May 2004
Matthew is a young american student in france, his passion for movies leads him into Theo and Isabelle, two twins that shares his passion, they quickly build a deep friendship and Matthew gets invited to stay with them while their parents are gone. However once he gets settled with them he discovers sides of both that he had not expected. While they spend their time talking and playing, the riots of Paris 1968 goes on in the "real world".

This is a very brave film in the way it has been build, but it is also a complicated movie that will leave you both confused and thinking, it's beautiful and it can almost be described as cinematic poetry, however this poetry also makes it a difficult one to relate too.

After seeing this film i am confused in what i feel about it, the movie feels very divided, and some times it is an extraordinary brave and experimental film, other times it is confuing, and at some times boring too. It's really a hard movie to understand because of the poetic feeling it gives, it's like reading a poem where some of the lines doesn't make sense, but i guess that could be an advantage as it can be seen more than once. I feel the strength of the movie is the way it challenges and explores like no american or typical mainstream movie would do, the often use of nudity and raw sex scenes would never be seen elsewhere, and even though it may annoy many people, Bertolucci portrays the scenes very beautiful and they never seem like dirty scenes, the most impressive scene is the one where Matthew and Isabelle have sex, never have a full sex scene been portrayed in such a beautiful and realistic way on screen. And there are many examples of this.

What brings the movie is first of all the very slow storyline, it barely moves at all, the whole 2 hours are pretty much circulating around one thing, which is the way these 3 youngsters spend their sparetime, it's an mysterious movie that really brings up interesting situations a lot of times, but other times it simply gets too slow and gets a little boring. Another partly negative thing is the understanding of the movie, as I earlier mentioned the movie is like a poem, if you have problems with a few lines the whole deeper meaning may fall apart. I wouldn't say i did not understand the fully deeper meaning of the movie, but i think each individual will understand this movie differently, due to the complex way it has been made. But i honestly think Bertolucci wanted it to be like that, a movie that will leave you thinking about many things, but i think what it really is about is finding yourself in a world where there are 6 billion people looking like you on the outside.

The movie is very well directed, a solid directing and you can clearly see the trademarks of the director, one thing i noticed was the floating camera. The floating camera gives a feeling of being there, it is mostly used in the first part of the movie where Matthew learns more about his mysterious new friends, it gives us a feeling of curiousity towards these two new persons. Two persons whom we soon discover have more to them than showing on the outside.

The acting in the movie is solid. I usually don't expect much from new and coming actors and actresses that i have not heard about before, this was also the case for this movie. But the acting is really good, Michael Pitt and Louis Garrel really gives an above average performance, great to see that there are still new actors who can take over when the old ones will be gone. But the star of this movie is Eva Green, what a mysteriously and unique performance, and what a brilliant casting, she is unique, beautiful and most importantly interesting, erotic and challenging. Also i give props to all the three main characters for their brave and realistic portray of nudity and the complications of sex among unexperienced youngsters.

As i said earlier this movie is very complex, it's hard to understand, and i could probably talk about it forever, but i got to stop somewhere. I think the movie is definetely worth watching, it's very artistic and does indeed stand on its own feet, it takes chances you don't see many movies take, and it's all done very well. On the negative side i think the movie sometimes get too complex and slow, but overall i don't regret seeing it, and i think that i will be seeing it again due to the complex story, it will probably bring me new thoughts when i see it next time.

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Mr.Bertolucci, you dirty old man
thehellhole4 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Mon dieu, "The Dreamers" is one crappy art-house movie! It's highly self-indulgent, pretentious and offers nothing except a glimpse on Eva Green's luscious anatomy (and some bare butts and small sized wieners for the more female male out there).

The story is paper-thin and laughable at times. The "shocking moments" in the movie (rubbing menstruation blood in the face, incest, masturbation while someone is watching, etc..) all feel forced and do not serve the story at all. There are more subtle ways to show that the main characters are deranged and decadent than wanting someone to shave pubic hair as a proof of love.

Here's the basic outline of the story: naive American student meets French twins while protesting at the cinematheque in Paris. They invite him to live with them at their flat while mommy and daddy are away on a long long trip. The three create their own world of rebellion and decadence and screw everything up in the end.

There were two hilarious scenes I really could enjoy: 1) "The Dreamers" are out of money and food, so naked Theo (the twin bro) puts on a jacket (nothing else) and goes straight for the garbage can in the backyard to find something to eat. I literally could not stop laughing!

2) Isabelle (the twin sis) finds daddy's paycheck and realizes that their parents visited them while they were sleeping naked in the tent, so she decides that they have to commit suicide because of the shame. She takes a hose from the kitchen to kill the boys and herself with gas. But SUDDENLY there's a riot on the street, they all wake up, Isabell has to change her plan, quickly puts back the hose and tries to act casual.

The characters in "The Dreamers" act "highly illogical" as Mr. Spock would say. This fact combined with the impression that all three are arrogant morons, who think "Well, f*** up the system, cause daddy is going to fix it!", makes the story really offensive. I'm in my late 20ies but I wanted to kick them all in the nuts, except Eva Green, mainly for anatomical reasons.

If you want to see an interesting film about incest, dysfunctional relationships and consequences watch "The Cement Garden" or way better, read the book by Ian McEwan.
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From Sexual Hedonism To Political Activism
hokeybutt4 March 2005
THE DREAMERS (3 outta 5 stars) Interesting project by the renowned director Bernardo Bertolucci... dealing with the events of 1968 in France... a time of great social upheaval, as rioting students took to the streets to shut down the French government. The main characters are a young American student who has come to France to study film... and a very unconventional brother and sister who recruit him to their offbeat lifestyle. All three are obsessed by film (as many young people were in 1968... the glory days of the avant garde)... and also with the concept of breaking rules and societal taboos. With their parents away for the month and the flat to themselves, bets are made on film trivia and the penalties for not identifying a particular moment from a particular film become more and more shocking. Only leaving their home to watch films, the trio are basically oblivious to the growing trouble in the streets... until finally they can sit passively no more. Very intriguing concept and the acting is fine... but ultimately I thought the conclusion fell a little flat... the transition from sexual hedonism to political activism didn't really work for me... it all seemed a little abrupt and could have been explored a little deeper. Worth watching and discussing though.
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complete crap, frankly
Foxterrier15 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I've never been so harsh in a one line summary, but there it is. I had a feeling within the opening minutes that oh-oh, I've made a mistake here. I'm kicking myself now for not sneaking out of my seat and into the theatre next door.

Forgive me, but even if a story is wholly fictional, a yarn from end to end, you still need to BELIEVE in it, and it's characters, in order to enjoy the tale. With this one I couldn't, not from the first frames.

That's not true. I did enjoy the opening titles, the way the names appeared and disappeared like dancers within the steel lattice of the Eiffel Tower. But right after that, as soon as "Matthew" started telling us this fake memoir of what he supposedly did in Paris in 1968, my internal bulls--- meter spoke up like a rude child. "You're not Matthew, you're some actor in a French movie directed by some guy with a big ego and a whoop-to-do reputation, and the year is 2003 not 1968." Naturally I waited for story to get involving so as to shut up my internal little kid, but it didn't and he didn't either.

Moving ahead now, let me just say that the lead actress is pretty. Very pretty. Embarrassingly so. And when she says of her brother Theo, "he is always inside me," well, that pretty much speaks for all of us. Like one of John and Bo Derek's classics, two hours spent watching Isabelle prancing around in and out of her negligee would probably be both terrible yet...very worthwhile. Spoiler warning to future husbands: there's not much in the way of secrets left to tell.

But the rest of this crap is crap. I've never seen a French movie try to look French before, but this one does. I've never seen a poet look more like hapless clerk from a hardware store, but their father does. And I've never seen two actors playing brother and sister who are so clearly pretending. You can feel it. The two sisters in "In America" FELT like sisters, not just because in real life they are. To me, the relationship between Isabelle and Theo just doesn't ring true.

None of this rings true. And now I've spent more time writing this bad review than I did watching the stupid film. A movie with sex is probably wonderful, but atleast put a decent movie around it.
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maryfeather8010 November 2012
okay people,just because Bertolucci made a movie with two twins and a blonde American going around naked and doing silly stuff ,this is masterpiece?This is your interpretation of art?where is the art?while he is doing her and her brother is watching and making eggs???Is that art or just because in the name Bertolucci everything around is pure art??even the blood on their face, that was sick was...okay let me guess this one....masterful intelligent pure pure art!!!if any other director made this film he would be buried with the worst reviews ever!!!!if you are Bertolucci everything is good and intelligent and that is how everyone judge this movie,i m sure that even the people that didn't like this movie wrote they liked it because of the name of the director...because everybody found it artistic and masterful....
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Tragedy of a Ridiculous Director
PurityofEssence1004 March 2004
Even by today's standards Bertolucci's films of the early 70's, The Conformist and Last Tango in Paris, are powerful mixes of seductive Italian movie making with a fiery, if pessimistic, brand of Marx's Freudian politics.

Now three decades later Bernardo returns to scene of his great triumphs to see if he can't turn one more cinematic trick. His new film The Dreamers should

have had a lot going for it. What couldn't you do with a three way sexual

encounter staged in Paris in the midst of May '68? And the fact the story's three young `dreamers' are also cinema buffs should provide for an interesting twist or two, plot or otherwise. But my God, what on Earth was the great Italian

director thinking? This movie is singularly awful. Two hours of pointless

pretentious masturbatory (literally) drivel! The film's underlying problem is not technical; it's not the acting, staging, or even the directing. Some of the sets, like the kids' tent, are actually quite beautiful. The problem of the movie is

conceptual! Bertolucci thirty years along has absolutely nothing original to say about people or politics, music or art, sex or life.

Which is ironic given that the historical setting of The Dreamers is May '68, probably the greatest revolutionary moment of the past fifty years. May '68 is the historical moment out of which the notion that the authority of the state had so ingrained itself into the conscious and unconscious discourse of the culture that our modern way of life, which prides itself on being `democratic" and free, is now mired in a horrible situation of unfreedom. More than anything else this modern state of unfreedom, this end of the `Enlightenment', has been THE

problem for critical thinkers of the past half-century. But you won't find anything than more than a wisp of that historic problem here. For the Dreamers May '68 is a time to remember the way we were, a sentimental education, in which the

characters argue in the most uninteresting and almost banal terms about

movies and music (Hendrix was better than Clapton!), while exploring their

adolescent sexuality. And I really didn't think it was possible to make sex seem so boring. But there it is.

Like generals and whores there is always something pathetic (and ridiculous)

about a film director who tries to remount a great triumph thirty years after the fact. Bernardo, of you, I had always dreamed of better.
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More like penance than entertainment
fertilecelluloid20 June 2005
Two interminably pretentious Parisians (Eva Green and Louis Garrel) and one detestable American (Michael Pitt) are cinephiles who decide to shack up in Rich Daddy's bohemian French apartment for a binge of sex, alcohol, more sex and rambling philosophy. After an hour, the effect is gross boredom.

The film's supposedly "erotic" NC-17-rated sex scenes were touted as a good reason to see this turgid rubbish. Yes, we do see some penises and we do see Green's dull vagina, but these characters are so crushingly vapid that the care factor is less than zero.

The film does have a political backdrop and it does use clips from old French and Hollywood classics to underline and parallel the central story, but it all comes across as empty because nobody thought to give these ghastly characters anything to do or want.

Spending almost two hours with them felt like penance.
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Ingenious film-making? are you kidding me?
deelilian-118 June 2005
I want to comment on Mr. Roland's 'review' on this film that's pasted as a primary user comment on this site. What are you talking about, sir? Beautiful film making? Yes, Bertolucci has employed a few ingenious cinematography tricks, but the film is utterly pointless. Like someone who has too much to say (or too little), the message, the plot, the POINT of the entire film was lost, awash in masturbatory gestures (pardon the pun) of an aging, decaying, film maker. Mr. Roland, it is a shame that you sang such high praises to this motion picture, JUST BECAUSE the smörgåsbord of monumental scenes from classic masterpieces managed to pull a veil over your eyes, disguising the failure of this film as a piece of artwork, worthy of an audience's ATTENTION! wake up! As for me? that was '2-hour-period of my life that i would never get back'.
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Acting straight?
Ian Chapman9 February 2004
Asked to explain the almost total absence of the homoerotic element of his novel, screenwriter Gilbert Adair has cited the need for the three main actors, who are heterosexual, to feel 'comfortable' in their roles.

One thinks back to the generations of gay lead actors and actresses who managed to convince audiences of their attraction to co-stars for whom they can have felt nothing. This particular skill is known as ACTING - a skill apparently not expected of the pampered little darlings here.

Not that they looked particularly comfortable, anyway, in their protracted cavortings. Perhaps, given the illustrious name of their director, they expected to find themselves in something more reputable than the slice of kinky soft-core porn on display here.
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Bertolucci declares bankruptcy
graham clarke25 September 2006
It's often the case that directors who in their youth created memorable films loose their touch with the passing years. Sometimes they become casualties of the expectation generated by their reputations; a case in point the fiasco of Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut". Others creative juices have sadly run dry as with Woody Allen shamelessly reprising his shtick ("Anything Else"), without realizing just how irrelevant and out of touch he has become in his depiction of a young generation of which he clearly has little understanding.

It's been a while since Berltolucci has made anything with any real impact. Longing for the fame and notoriety that came with "Last Tango" he chooses to return to Paris and to prove just how daring he still is in dealing with sexual taboos and on screen teenage nudity. It's genuinely pathetic. He is an artist gone bankrupt.

Bertolucci was once capable of creating complex and compelling movies such as "The Conformist" and intense melodramas ("La Luna" - my personal favorite). It's inconceivable that he could turn out a film so completely bogus. There is not one frame that rings true. The screenplay is filled with the most appalling lines. It would take three far better young actors to make any sense of this garbage. That Michael Pitt almost gets by is in itself a miracle. Louis Garrell and Eva Green are totally inept. But the fault is hardly theirs.

So much is wrong with "The Dreamers" that one hardly knows where to begin. The ridiculously spruced up Parisian streets look more like MGM back lot and even the costumes look silly. As far as characterization goes, well it simply non existent. There's not much acting either, just endless posturing.

There is something very disturbing in the on screen nudity of the three young actors. The question of nudity or on screen sex is totally dependant on context. While a film like "Ken Park" is no example of fine cinema, one cannot argue that the sex and nudity is out of context. In the context of this non story peopled with non characters; watching the nudity one feels tainted in being coerced to participate in a dirty old man type of voyeurism.

There is no redeeming feature to "The Dreamers". It's like the very first effort of an inexperienced young, ambitious and most definitely untalented director.

A stinker if there ever was one.
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I grew up in the 60s
nightair8611 April 2010
And, trust me, it was nothing like this! Sure, I would have dreamed to have met(and more!) someone like Isabelle when i was 20. This movie is pure garbage and anyone who thinks to the contrary ought to get a reality check. It has 3 beautiful young actors who have nothing better to do than have sex, sleep and drink very expensive wine. Nice. Those of us who were actually teenagers in the 60s do not have this experience at all. It is fantasy. Don't get me wrong: If the purpose of this artsy film was to titillate and show off the gorgeous, voluptuous bodies of these 3 young persons, then it succeeded in every measure. But all three of them (as portrayed in the movie) are self-obsessed, self-centred, rude, spoiled rotten kids. Parents were total idiots too. Thank goodness, the 60s were not dominated by these amoral teenagers; otherwise we may not have succeeded as a Western Society into the new millennium. Take this movie for what it is: nice camera-work, good Parisian scenery and 3 gorgeous nude teenagers screwing like rabbits. If you are reading more into it than that, then you are a true idiot. It is artsy pornography. Nothing more.
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A disquietingly beautiful film
seishino28 October 2006
To steal a metaphor from the movie, The Dreamers is like watching your parents have sex through the keyhole of their door. It disturbs you, sometimes so deeply that you want to run away. But it is so real that you can't stop watching. And as you watch it, your view of the world changes a little.

This is not an easy movie. It starts out lighthearted, innocent, and 2-dimensional. But as it progresses, it gets deeper and deeper and the characters get more and more complex. Uncomfortable aspects of the people are brought to the forefront. While it doesn't bask in hedonism like most Hollywood films, it doesn't shy away from any controversial subjects as long as they're the reality of the people.

You don't have to be in an open relationship to identify with the situations the characters find themselves in. Taking place almost entirely with three people in one large house, it's amazingly acted, wonderfully heartfelt... If you are strong enough to watch it, The Dreamers is well worth the effort.
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