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The Dreamers
Drama, art/France/English, French (Japanese subtitles)/115mins
Starring: Michael Pitt, Eva Green, Louis Garrel
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci

Fox Searchlight Pictures

"I have at last met some real Parisians!" writes Matthew, a young American visiting Paris, to his parents. He doesn’t tell the folks back home that he met them on a political protest and that after being invited to stay with them he has slipped into some decidedly odd ways.

Theo and Isabelle invite Matthew to stay with them at their apartment and he is a tad nonplussed at the frank steaminess of the siblings’ relationship: they sleep naked in the same bed and wander around in permanent undress. But it’s OK, they were conjoined twins and they show him the scars to prove it.

Apart from being odd, the three youngsters are cineastes and when Theo flunks a movie trivia quiz his sister’s punishment for him is to masturbate looking at his favourite picture of Marlene Dietrich. Theo plots a revenge where Isabelle is compelled to have sex with Matt. Now the steaminess turns into a full-fledged semi-incestuous, bisexual ménage á trios. Real Parisians, indeed.

The cute thing is that this is 1968 and French students and workers are on the verge of overthrowing their own government. Rome burns as the three little Neros fiddle with themselves, so to speak. Real events intrude in the form of the odd brick through the window.

In case you haven’t yet guessed, this is Bernardo Bertolucci of Last Tango in Paris fame and this is no mere weirdo porno flick — though you can watch it like that if you like. The Dreamers is lavishly filmed and quotes pretty every other filmmaker of arty note, mostly extensively Godard.

It is a dreamy indulgence in this seminal period of history, and when the three youngsters are not bonking they are idealizing, their philosophy veering between youthful silliness and real revolutionary pragmatism. Posters of Mao jostle with portraits of the stars.

This is Bertolucci, so this is no sentimental trip down memory lane and we see him separating the fluff from the real stuff as the sex games end in the streets, swept away in the protests as if in the tide of history.

Review by Chris Page

 

 
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