The Dreamers (2003)

“The Dreamers” is a film that was hardly seen upon its initial release, and I think it’s a crime that it was hardly shown to the public. The fact that this film was shun by the MPAA and swept under the rug is only the clearest of indicators of how close-minded we are. Bertolucci gives us a rough and tumble look at sexual acts between friends and never adds cheesy background music to sound like porn, it’s natural, and that’s why “The Dreamers” is such a beautiful film. The film takes place in 1969 where the free loving is at an all time high and the Vietnam War is in the midst.

Matthew is a tourist from America who’s come to sample some of the fine cinema from Paris and is an avid movie buff when he meets Isabelle and Theo who engage him in discussions about film and eventually he becomes one of their own. What we witness is a beautiful portrait of three people struggling to break free from their bounds of the life they live. Matthew, no matter how much he tries, is still an outsider from them, and witnesses their incestuous relationship with much chagrin. Mostly a love letter to cinematic directors and films from the golden age of cinema, they constantly quiz one another by re-enacting films from Garbo, and Bergman while constantly trying to outdo one another in many ways. When Theo and Isabelle’s parents leave for the weekend, the three spend the entirety together discussing film and life.

From an outsider’s view, Matthew sees the way the family express their love to one another is lewd, but to them it’s mundane. The film casts a light on these three very esoteric personalities who constantly associate their life with their favorite films which really does succeed in touching upon the film buff’s way of life. Which of us, film buffs, don’t associate our own life with films, and wish we were in one? The trio here constantly mimics the films they’ve seen using it as a motive in testing their own relationships with one another. Meanwhile, Bertolucci brilliantly captures the beauty of Paris while focusing on the threesome presented during the film, all of whom have their own personal axes to grind. They constantly challenge one another sexually and psychologically while supplying antagonistic pleasures that test their relationships.

I loved how, for no reason, they constantly quizzed one another, how, for no reason, we’re exposed to sexual acts by the three, and much of the sexual acts are gestures of their adversarial relationship with one another including Isabelle and Theo who have a heavily suggested sexual relationship, but when Matthew befriends them, jealousy sparks in every way imaginable. The two are brutally obnoxious, but Matthew often subjects them to scrutiny openly while he notices that they’re more rivals than traditional brother and sister, and they’re constantly challenging one another sexually while Matthew is hopelessly caught in the middle.

The highlight for me was Eva Green who is both smoking hot and a driving force for the films symbolism. Much of the film doesn’t make sense, nor does it try to, but that’s where the beauty is. We’re stuck in this grasp that everything must make sense to appreciate it, but I appreciated the senselessness of it all, not all art has to make sense to be beautiful, and Bertolucci creates a nearly perfect film about life, love, existentialism and beauty of both sexual relationships and film. Despite being ridiculously over-hyped as a lewd film, this is one of the most beautiful independent films I’ve seen in years with a story that drips of sexuality and linear characterization while supported by solid performances by the entire cast and a meaningful message. Bertolucci tops himself.