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The Dreamers (2003)

Innocents - The dreamers, Les Innocents, I Sognatori

Directed by:

Bernardo Bertolucci

Rating: 3/10

Running Time: 115 minutes

US Certificate: NC-17, R (cut version) UK Certificate: 18

On DVD

Country: France, Italy, United Kingdom, United States

It’s Paris, 1968, and pasty-faced cinema-obsessive Matthew (Michael Pitt) has arrived to study French. As a student, he pretty much ticks most of the boxes. He drinks, dodges tax-paying, and sleeps until mid-afternoon. But isn’t he forgetting something? I mean, I know things have changed a little since the swinging sixties, but I always thought STUDYING was a fairly integral part of the arrangement? Our Mikey doesn’t get much of that done though. It’s probably because he’s too busy nookying with a brother and sister combo, the dirty dog.

The Mikester bumps into mumbling-but-photogenic twins Isabelle and Theo (Eva Green and Louis Garrel) while protesting about the closure of the local movie house. The slightly-creepy siblings ask him to move in with them, and it’s not long before he realises the two of them are at the old incest. Fair enough, their parents are a couple of lily-livered liberals, and Dad can’t even make it through mealtime without droning on about poetry, but you suspect even they would probably draw the line at catching their son and daughter in a sex-heap.

So the keeping-it-in-the-family all stays fairly low-key – until, that is, the folks depart for some Lefties’ Convention and the fun (if you like that sort of thing) really starts. First off, they force Michael to wear a ridiculous ladies’ floral gown thingy. They then start playing film-based guessing games, the losers of which inevitably have to perform some act involving their danglies. After that, the three of them share a bath together, shocking not just because of the gratuitous nudity, but for its depiction of the French actually having a bit of a wash.

Meanwhile, the money left behind by Mere and Pere is running out. Whatever will we do? Get jobs like every other poor sod on the planet? Nah, heaven forbid – after all that would involve actually leaving the house. Instead, let’s just start eating old bananas out of a skip like tramps.

You might question what the film’s saying about blossoming teen sexuality in the Europe of the 1960s, or you might even ponder the protagonists’ use of sexual deviancy to shut themselves off from the politically-fraught outside world. Me? I just couldn’t help but wonder if it was really necessary for the three of them to have their arses out quite so often. Seriously, I really can live without seeing that stuff.

Helmed by top Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci and adapted from the novel by Gilbert Adair, ‘The Dreamers’ is an essentially dull film which always seems to be trying too hard to be controversial – and failing in the process. It’s not sexy, it’s icky, and the characters are just too self-obsessed to care about. What starts off feeling like it might turn into an interesting plot doesn’t take long to degenerate into a repetitive string of sex scenes which quite simply have nowhere to go. Frankly, I found it boring, and not half as provocative as it so clearly wants to be.

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It's Got: Strangely-coloured cigarettes.

It Needs: A new toothbrush. Just wait to see what happens to the current one!

DVD Extras Audio commentary from director Bertolucci, writer Adair, and producer Jeremy Thomas, along with a couple of documentaries on the street riots of 1960s Paris, and a laughably-bad music video in which Michael Pitt sings Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Hey Joe’. DVD Extras Rating: 4/10

Alternatives:

Stealing Beauty

Summary

Two hours of self-important piffle about film buffs in the bare buff. It’s desperate to be controversial, but it’s not.

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