For every precocious kid, there comes a time when he thinks his favorite thing is the most important subject on earth, and he can’t figure out why the rest of the world isn’t as obsessed. Set in a Parisian neverneverland of posh revival cinemas and parent-subsidized revolt, Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers captures the poignant comedy and the inevitable passing of that moment. A wistful, memory-clouded elegy for the late 1960s’ fleeting intersection of movies, sexual freedom and radical idealism, it focuses on a naïve American student (Michael Pitt) who falls under the spell of two impulsive, brooding siblings (Eva Green and Louis Garrel) as the city rushes to the barricades in strife-torn 1968.
Free of their parents, safe above the streets in a labyrinthine townhouse, the movie-mad siblings retreat from the chaos outside into a kind of cushy playpen. They play movie-trivia games, they play-act scenes from favorite films, they play at being sexual and political outlaws. But they’re basically scared, unformed kids trying on attitudes like costumes. Their apartment is strewn with Maoist bric-a-brac and Susan Sontag books, accessories of revolution meant for show, and the girl’s libertine act is all poseat first, anyway. (Bless the director for treating film appreciation as a ticket to super-hot NC-17 boinking.) Until the final scenes, Bertolucci regards his dreamers tenderly, forgivingly, with the rueful amusement of someone watching his own adolescent follies from a great distance. Then a brick smashes through the window of this stifling bubble world, and the dreamers wake up.
Critics who saw the time and place firsthand have either treated The Dreamers as a nostalgia piece or knocked it for getting the details wrong. But Bertolucci, the director of The Conformist and Last Tango in Paris, isn’t creating a toothpick model of Paris 1968. That much is clear when he cuts between archival footage of Jean-Pierre Leaud and the actor today, 35 years older. The movie’s POV is bifocal. It views the blinding intensity (and the self-absorption) of youthful passion through the eyes of a besotted participant and the older, sadder, wiser observer replaying these flickers in his head. The details run together like wet watercolor smears of memory.
Like its young heroes, The Dreamers is faintly ludicrous and pretentious at times, drunk on movie love, and never less than gorgeous to look at. Whatever his misgivings about cinephilia as a lifestyle, Bertolucci himself has absorbed a lifetime of movie watching. His images flow as eloquently and effortlessly as a native tongue. Even when his politics here register as little more than pageantry, his filmmaking has a voluptuous vibrancy. Think of The Dreamers as a gateway movie: one that sends a viewer off in search of other films, other sensations and other people to share them with.
The shooting location for hard bodies gym was formerly the Paramus, NJ location of Tower…
This is like a flashback to the '80s, when Ted Turner was colorizing CASABLANCA and…
That clip is horrifying. It looks like postmortem makeup. Very uncanny valley.
AGGGHHHH that last picture!
LE JOUR SE LEVE is far superior to its American remake, THE LONG NIGHT (1947),…