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The Dreamers (Bernardo Bertolucci)

The Dreamers

The Dreamers (2003, Bernardo Bertolucci)

The NC-17 rating on this film may be deserved, but it still makes me think that we’re incorrigible prudes in this country.

Set against the backdrop of the 1968 student riots, The Dreamers
is the story of Matthew (Michael Pitt), an American student learning French in Paris. Matthew meets the beautiful Isabelle (Eva Green) and her dilettante brother Theo (Louis Garrel) at the cinematheque, where they bond over Marlene Dietrich and argue over Chaplin vs. Keaton.

Much has been made over the incestuous-seeming relationship between Theo and Isabelle in this film, but their obsessive love for each other (especially on Isabelle’s part–Eva Green is heartwrenching in the part) is a metaphor for the entire youth culture of the time. Isabelle is unable to do anything without Theo’s permission, and though she has an intense affair with Matthew, she is lost without her brother. And yet, we see Theo’s inability to see beyond the nose on his face very clearly.

This film is a gorgeous ode to classic cinema, pasting in clips from the classics it references for the less film-savvy among us. It is more sensual than sexual–a scene where Matthew dips honey from a jar with his fingers is more erotic than most of the sex. It’s the story of an age, a time, and the shortsightedness of a group of people, who prefer to disappear into art than deal with the world. Don’t be scared off by the NC-17 rating.

Now Playing at the Mayan Theater – go to for showtimes


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