Today: May 14, 2024

The Dreamers

The Dreamers writer Gilbert Adair once said, “The eye strays. In the cinema, it has been trained to do so, often with aberrant results. Though I doubt if I could coherently relate the plot of “North By Northwest“, a movie I must have seen four or five times, I believe I’ll remember to my dying day the colour of Cary Grant‘s socks as he flees from the crop-dusting plane.” It is a sentiment that perfectly captures The Dreamers, a film less interested in plot but infinitely fascinated with the minutiae of three youths trying to find their place in the world.

Matthew (Michael Pitt) is a 20 year-old American studying French in Paris in 1968. More interested in the cultural revolution of French Cinema, Matthew is befriended by siblings Isabelle (Eva Green) and Theo (Louis Garrel) who take a shine to him thanks to his fascination with all things film. But as civil unrest mounts on the streets of Paris, so Matthew finds himself seduced into Isabelle and Theo’s unusual relationship.

Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, The Dreamers, like so much of his work, is never afraid to court controversy. But it is often between the controversial moments where his films shine brightest. The Dreamers is no exception. It is a film that celebrates the art of cinema, a film that looks sumptuous and sweeps over you like an alcohol infused dream. The mid-section of the film feels romantic in its affection for three people trying to find their place in the world through the silver screen, it is in these romantic moments, often cutting to the films the trio talk about, that The Dreamers sores. 

Bertolucci’s camera is one minute voyeuristic, the next grand and alluring. A Marxist himself, The Dreamers often feels as if Bertolucci is exorcising some inner demons. Theo sees himself as a revolutionary, he talks a good talk but his only real interest is cinema. It is Matthew who sees through this, sees past the ideology having intentionally travelled to France to avoid being drafted for The Vietnam War and anxious to avoid the tragic human nature of violence and conflict. As such, the film often presents a fascinating insight into Bertolucci’s mindset; that perhaps art saved him from going down a different, more aggressive path. It is a film that illustrates that those who fail to see the world around them and instead live through motion pictures run the risk of failing to fully understand the reality they live in. That a film should open your eyes to the world in front of you rather than blind you to it.

As the title would suggest, The Dreamers does at times drift, losing sight of what it set out to do and, as is often Bertloucci’s way, becoming distracted by titillation. There are some scenes that wonderfully capture the ideas, are romantic, and often erotic. But then they veer into something else which would be fine if the film took the time to explore them beyond just the surface level. 

Where this release does excel is in the extras all of which offer a stunning insight into the filmmakers. In one interview Bertolucci says, “I want somebody who will keep my camera for the whole shoot”. It is here that the director clearly found a muse in Eva Green. The Dreamers is unquestionably the film that launched her career and allowed her to go onto play one of Bond’s most iconic love interests. Here she is captivating. A sultry mystery one moment, a fragile innocent the next and yet always lurking behind the eyes is a depression, a desperation to belong and find an identity. Both Pitt and Garrel are very good but orbit the start of Green more than vie for your attention. 

A naval gaze of a film about naval gazing, The Dreamers is a film that gives off serious vibes of desire and a loss of innocence while always looking absolutely beautiful to look at. 

The Dreamers will be available to buy & rent on Digital 29th April.

Available to own on 4K Ultra HD disc from 13th May (includes Blu-ray feature)
Pre-order on Amazon

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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