Review by Steve Rhodes|
2½ stars out of 4
About a m‚nage … trois, Bernardo Bertolucci's THE DREAMERS is a pretentious,
pointless picture that produces the same can't-look-away effect as seeing a
car wreck. Wisely released as NC-17, this bizarre movie works best, when it
works at all, as a soft-porn, guilty pleasure.
Basically a three-person drama, the late 1960s story is set mainly in a
sprawling but decrepit apartment in Paris. Trying its best to shock us, the
plot features college age, French twins, Theo (Louis Garrel) and Isabelle
(Eva Green), who sleep together in the nude. They also like to bathe
together. (The family who bathes together stays together?) Although they
don't appear to hide their incestuous relationship, Isabelle tells their new
American friend, Matthew (Michael Pitt), that she'd kill herself if her
parents ever found out. Since her parents, played by Robin Renucci and Anna
Chancellor, are the classic excessively permissive parents, it's clear that
nothing their kids could do would earn their disapproval.
With their own wicked game, something akin to strip poker, the horny
siblings like recreating scenes from old black-and-white movies -- which we
are shown in quick clips. If the other sibling can't answer the movie quiz
fast enough, a "penalty" is assessed. With three to play, it gets wilder,
of course. One pivotal scene finds Matthew in the penalty box, being
"forced" to make love to Isabelle on the kitchen floor. Meanwhile, above
these lovebirds, Theo decides to cook eggs for everyone. Unlike typical
Hollywood sex scenes that are usually hazily filmed blends of ballet and
wrestling moves, the ones in THE DREAMERS look like the real thing. Green,
in her first movie, isn't a particularly good actress, but she does have
what it takes for her part. Her face is average, but her body is stunning,
with large and naturally voluptuous breasts and neatly trimmed pubic hair.
Since all of the actors have long nude scenes featuring close-ups of their
private parts, it is her body that becomes the star of the show. Given the
three's proclivity for long baths together and given Pitt's androgynous face
with his bee-sting lips, the story's biggest surprise is the homosexual
scene that never occurs.
"You spy on them. You feel guilty. You feel disgusted," one of them says
about accidentally seeing your parents having sex and how you can't look
away. So it is with this weirdly captivating tale of amoral youths. The
director's only point seems to be that he can make a movie that will bewitch
your eyes so that you can't look away either.
THE DREAMERS runs 1:46. The film is in English and in French with English
subtitles. It is rated NC-17 for "explicit sexual content" and would be
acceptable for college students.
Copyright © 2004 Steve Rhodes