The Dreamers

Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci

> > Aug 2004

The Dreamers - Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci
By Peter KnegtBernardo Bertolucci knows how to make beautiful movies. Since his artistic peak in the mid-'70s with Last Tango In Paris and The Conformist, Bertolucci has mastered the knack of making a film look like art. But aesthetic beauty does not always make for good filmmaking. Bertolucci's last few rather unmemorable films (Little Buddha, Stealing Beauty and Beseiged) prove this point, as does his latest. The Dreamers, set in 1968, follows American film enthusiast Matthew (Hedwig and the Angry Inch's Michael Pitt) as he travels to France to "learn French." But it seems his original motivation is disrupted by siblings Isabelle (Eva Green) and Theo (Louis Garrel). As their mutual love for the cinema quickly bonds them, the trio become a threesome in every possible way. Bertolucci tries to make this movie a lot of different things: an exploration of youthful sexuality (hence its rare American NC-17 rating), but also a throwback to the era of French New Wave cinema in which the film takes place. It fails in both regards. The sex, though somewhat explicit, lacks any depth or complexity and feels like art-house porn. And though the film succeeds in mirroring the style of the French New Wave, its attempts at fusing political commentary into the film are half-hearted and bland. What the film does succeed at, however, is looking absolutely beautiful. The cinematography (by Fabio Cianchetti) is gorgeous; the sets and costumes are meticulous; even the actors look like walking paintings. Maybe Bertolucci should have been a painter. Plus: commentary by Bertolucci and writer Gilbert Adair, featurettes, more. (Fox Searchlight)
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