Over thirty years ago, director Bernardo Bertolucci shocked the world with the help of Don Corleone, Maria Schneider and a knob of Utterly Butterly. With The Dreamers, the dirty old man is up to his old tricks again, releasing a film that whipped up a furore across the pond and was tagged with the dreaded, commercially suicidal NC-17 rating for “Explicit Sexual Content”. Student ears the world over pricked up…
And, true to say, The Dreamers isn’t averse to lingering over the bodies of its three young stars, playing a trio of students who go to ground in Paris in the late 1960s and experience an insular, borderline-perverse sexual awakening that threatens to shut out the revolution that is taking place in the streets around them. Michael Pitt, playing the film buff American who is unceremoniously integrated into the playful, possibly incestuous world of brother and sister Isabelle and Theo, brings just the right edge of youthful lust and wide-eyed wonder to a role which is both demanding and revealing.
Full of references that will thrill the film buff, The Dreamers uses its references as a way of demythologising its own characters, exposing them as obsessed, insular and self-destructive individuals whose socially stunted existence is desperately at odds with the wave of change permeating the zeitgeist of the time. Though thankfully the film is not obsessed with negativity – for all their failings the characters are resolutely interesting people, and portray well the gleeful and painful truths of teen love, lust and growth.
Explicit though The Dreamers undoubtedly is, it is also a beautifully crafted, genuinely intelligent film that, despite its credentials, should have appeal outside of the art-house market. Its heady mixture of joyful exuberance and melancholy remembrance of time past cumulates in a moment of transcendent sadness, and leaves us aware that the more things change, the more they stay the same. A powerful, erotic and uncompromising work.
Screenings of this film:
|2003/2004 Summer Term – (35mm)|