The Dreamers Reviews
The chemistry between the three celebrities cements 'The Dreamers' as one of the most beautiful and touching films about the dreams we have of cinema and a love of movies.
"The Dreamers" reflects the lives of those middle class adolescents in the late '60s who felt the need to revolt against the mainstream without really understanding what they were revolting against and what they wanted instead. "The Dreamers" reflects the disconnect between a generation of adolescents lost in bourgeois society, longing to get out but not knowing how.
Our main character is your generic intellectual who's living among people of a different culture and finds some people he connects with. He's dragged along a roller-coaster of sexual tension and alienation and enjoys every little bit of it, but in the end he realizes he's been living in a dream, he wakes up and moves on.
The symbolism is deep. The emotions are deep. I've rarely been this impressed by a movie, so all I can say is this : watch it with an open mind and let yourself go....
Stereotypically with films by Bernardo Bertolucci, there is a sense that his works tend to be self-indulgent. This is clearly the case with The Dreamers because it serves as an examination of his passion for eroticism and cinematic history. In his attempts to integrate both that into the story he is able to create a film which is very atmospheric and stylish, but at the same time he neglects a substantial story.
Bernardo Bertolucci's sense of style is all there in The Dreamers. The beautiful scenery captured in the film is not to the extent that Bernardo Bertoucci reached with Stealing Beauty, but the lovely Paris scenery really gives the film an intriguing setting. Yet as a means of keeping on a low budget, The Dreamers spends most of its times within the limited confines of a single aparment setting. With Bernardo Bertolucci directing, the natural beauty of this setting is illuminated very well with the colourful illumination of everything making the experience more appealing. The cinematography is excellently atmospheric as it emphasizes all of this while also capturing the lovely spectacle of nudity depicted in The Dreamers. While the subject matter may make it a challenge to embrace some of the sexuality in The Dreamers, Bernardo Bertolucci's passion for eroticism ensures that use of nudity is captured with a gentle stylish appeal. The nudity in the film progressively becomes natural as the atmosphere develops which means that Bernardo Bertolucci's ability to make eroticism naturally blend into the narrative transcends the edgy subject matter of the film. The stylish way that cinematic history stock footage is juxtaposed with Bernardo Bertolucci's footage befittingly pays tribute to the director's love of many parts of film history. Frankly, The Dreamers is a very stylish film which is rich in atmosphere.
However, the same cannot be said about the story. For one thing, I'm not familiar with the context of the 1968 Paris student riots so I can't pick up on a lot of the story context, nor do I understand what relevance it is to the characters. But the problem is that the film doesn't make it clear why these riots are occuring, and when this is clearly a key piece of subtext in the story and important to the characters then viewers who don't know the same extent of history as Gilbert Adair did when he wrote it. But beyond the ambigous story context, there is genuinely not much to substantiate the narrative anyway. The relationship shared between the three main characters is not explicitly clear. Part of the supposed interest in the film comes from the unpredictability of just where the relationship between twins Theo and Isabelle along with Matthew is going to develop, but for me the problem was that there was just a genuine lack of depth in the tale. The cast are involved in bringing the spirit out of the characters, but the story is not up to the same challenge because it doesn't seem to know them any better than we do. And no matter how many new plot points are brought into the narrative, there is still never an answer to who the main characters are and why they are such free spirited and unconventional folk. And the film consistently proves that it wants to keep moving forward which is a nice contrast to the extremely slow pace of Bernardo Bertolucci's prior film Stealing Beauty, but the subject matter is still not insightful enough to be genuinely entertaining along the way.
The only spirit in the narrative held aloft throughout the feature comes from the efforts of the cast.
Michael Pitt captures a strong leading performance for The Dreamers. As a character who gets caught up in a strange brother sister relationship, Michael Pitt convincingly conveys the sense of being an outsider who slowly learns to embrace the free spirited nature of the people he meets. He develops a strong chemistry with the surrounding cast members and speaks of his cinematic passion with such an instinctively tenacious flair. Michael Pitt's determined ability to consistently remain both engaged with Eva Green and Louis Garrel and yet somewhat isolated as well is a strong balance of charisma, so he proves himself as a strong lead.
But Eva Green is the standout of the cast. Embalmed in the complicated relationship she shares with Matthew and Theo, Isabelle is a character which Eva Green sinks into very deeply. Lost in the mystical mindset of the role, Eva Green becomes lost in the fantasies of Isabelle's mind. Her spirit comes out of the character through every end, be it through the most minor physical movements or facial expressions. Her line delivery becomes truly intense at times, and the genuine passion of the character is difficult to ignore with Eve Green delivering such a powerful effort in the part.
Lastly, Louis Garrel is also a very powerful addition to the cast. As the most unpredictable of the characters, Louis Garrel is able to go between being passionately energetic in developing a friendship with Matthew before instantly diverting it into what borders on a sense of intense antagonism. He is always an edgy presence on screen, and his strong ability to put himself at the heart of the drama in the relationship shared between with Matthew and Isabelle is intense. Louise Garrel has a passionate sense of charisma as Theo, and his ability to make the experience more intense is an admirable asset.
So The Dreamers benefits from a trio of performances from the lead actors and stylish directorial work from Bernardo Bertolucci, but the story is so lifelessly underdeveloped and contextually insufficient that it makes the entire experience dull and even confusing at times.