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Dreamers, The (NC-17 Edition)  (2003)


Starring: Michael Pitt, Eva Green, Louis Garrel

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci

Rating: NC-17 edition

Distributor: Fox Home Entertainment

Release Date: July 13, 2004
Review posted: July 1, 2004

Spoilers: None


Reviewed by Christopher T. Bryan




Matthew (Michael Pitt) is an American studying in Paris. He is passionate about watching films, both good and bad, anything as long as it is film. It is during the political turmoil of Paris in 1968 that Matthew discovers a new passion of his when he meets Isabelle (Eva Green) and Theo (Louis Garrel), incestuous twins who invite Matthew to stay with them while their parents are away on holiday.


The three explore their newfound sexuality, in turn touching, ridiculing and then touching each other some more while becoming more and more enwrapped in their own little world which is confined to their parents’ apartment.  The confines of the apartment are broken both figuratively and literally when the political uprising that has been boiling pierces the bubble they have formed around themselves.




The packaging for The Dreamers DVD contains words such as love, passionate, and lust. I found few if any of these things in a movie that begins to explore the Cinephile movement in Paris, a time of revolution and true passion over film, but chooses instead to focus on the meeting of three adolescents who like to touch pee-pees.


The kids speak of passion, and debate films, who is funnier, Keaton or Chaplin?  Meanwhile though, they have no money and can’t fend for themselves, it is in their own heads that they are intelligent and politically aware individuals.  They have no life experience and romanticize the films they watch, believing that reenacting scenes from a film will bring them the emotional experiences that they witnessed on the screen.


I haven’t seen this much male frontal nudity in awhile and feel that director Bernardo Bertolucci was using the nudity and masturbation scenes more for shock effect than for art’s sake. He does however cut in scenes from movie classics, including Goddard’s Breathless. This is an interesting effect and a nice nod to excellent filmmaking, but it made me realize that I should be watching the classic movies rather than The Dreamers.


I don’t care for Michael Pitt, his acting hasn’t grown since his days on Dawson’s Creek, and the character he portrays here doesn’t seem intelligent enough to have the deep conversations he is having. Eva Green, making her film debut, is playful and coy and is the most talented of the three.  Louis Garrel captures the pride and demeanor of a French man; then again, he is French.


The Dreamers chooses an unusual dichotomy in balancing a political uprising with incestual sex. The two seem to have little to do with each other, and each aspect could have made for a strong stand alone piece, however the sum does not equal the quality of the parts and instead The Dreamers is a disappointment.




The Dreamers is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Bertolucci uses a lot of natural lighting and this gives the film a more personal feel. Video quality looks very nice; no major flaws, a mostly clean presentation.




The Dreamers is presented in 5.1 Dolby Surround with options for Spanish and French Dolby Surround. It can also be subtitled in English, or Spanish. The sound was crisp and clear.




Feature Commentary by Director Bernardo Bertolucci, Writer Gilbert Adair and Producer Jeremy Thomas. The commentary gets into casting, transforming the original novel into a screenplay, shot choices and many other things. The track is informative however the three speakers are extremely dry.


Bertolucci Makes The Dreamers Documentary is probably the single most interesting part of the DVD.  Bertolucci was alive and in France during the Cinephile era. He has great knowledge of it, and it seems to me that he should have made a film centered on this movement. This documentary also offers some behind the scenes footage with the actors.


Outside the Window: Events in France, May, 1968 featurette. This feature includes some more background information on the political situation in France during the sixties, and furthers my opinion that the focus of the film should have been shifted. Much of the same information is covered in the documentary, making this feature seem unnecessary.


Michael Pitt’s Music Video “Hey Joe”, directed by Bertolucci, is next. This is the music video for a song from the film, I was surprised to hear Michael Pitt (Matthew) singing and was pleasantly surprised by his singing.


Theatrical Trailers: The Dreamers and Garden State teaser trailer.




The Dreamers is a film that has too much to say. It needed to find its focus to come across better. The film hits on interesting topics, but chooses the less interesting route and explores the sexuality of young adolescents. I would recommend reading the book over watching the film.




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