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The Dreamers

  The Dreamers
"Yup. That's a cold sore."

© 2004, Fox Searchlight Pictures
All Rights Reserved

Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Dreamers" (IMDb listing) is a salute to all movie lovers, with a touch of passion only felt by the '60s "Cahiers Du Cinema" and a Gen-X-type cast reminiscent of the '90s.

Set in Paris of 1968, most of the film takes place in the apartment of Théo (Louis Garrel) and Isabelle (Eva Green), seemingly incestuous twins. When Matthew (Michael Pitt) meets the twins at a protest for Paris Cinematheque director Langlois' dismissal by the government; a threesome is born. Matthew moves in with the twins and a game of seduction and role-playing begins. One of the trio's pastimes is to enact scenes from legendary films and challenge each other to name origins of these scenes. Upon failure to name the correct film, the loser is required to fulfill other's requests, which are more often than not, sexual ones.

In an effort to celebrate their bond, the three recreate the renowned Louvre sequence from "Band of Outsiders" ("Bande à part," 1964) where they run from one end of the museum to the other without getting caught by the security. The Paris apartment nests the three for nights of sexuality with hinted-but-never-fulfilled debauchery and discussions about Keaton vs. Chaplin, and Hendrix vs. Clapton. While Pitt portrays Matthew's vulnerability quite sincerely, Garrel is perhaps too engrossed in performing Theo's attitude-clad narcissism to demonstrate his proposed ideals constructively. As the film moves from one act to the other, Maoist Théo shifts from an apathetic domestic character to a violent activist.

Green's angelic beauty supports Isabelle's naivete, and she enacts scenes of Marlene Dietrich, Jean Seberg and Greta Garbo with fervor and reverence. As opposed to the flamboyant characters she depicts, Isabelle is only a little girl, and one that tries to hide her childish innocence by denying entrance to her room filled with dolls and floral pillows. Her sexually welcoming manner lapses toward the end of the movie and she goes back to the safeguard of her brother Théo's pomposity.

Despite the self-righteousness of the characters -- merely a cover-up for the troubles of coming-of-age –- the film is exceptionally pleasant. From the spectacular apartment to the gorgeous shots –- especially the one seen from the mirror reflection as the three share the bathtub -- Bertolucci illustrates the era of sex, love and cinephilia with skill and as someone who could only have lived it himself.

"The Dreamers" has several moments of great acting, more moments of great cinematography, and most of all, a shared love of cinema from beginning to end.

Filmfodder Grade: A-

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