The Dreamers (2003)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Erotic Drama, Coming-of-Age, Period Film  |   Release Date - Feb 6, 2004 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 130 min.  |   Countries - France , United Kingdom , Italy   |   MPAA Rating - NC17
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Review by Brian J. Dillard

Though it marks writer/director Bernardo Bertolucci's return to the themes of Last Tango in Paris and features loving homages to many classics of world cinema, The Dreamers falls short of the movies it echoes. A muddled allegory about the tension between art and life, the film sets out to denounce the infantile excesses of aestheticism but ends up glorifying them instead -- with endless scenes of nubile young flesh, lovingly photographed. As the three main characters wallow in a womb-like apartment, engaging in adolescent sexual gamesmanship and Lord of the Flies-lite squalor, they close themselves off from the political firestorm raging across Paris in May 1968. Only when their regression has reached its neurotic end point does the real world intrude, in the form of a deus ex machina that would be appalling if Bertolucci's symbolism hadn't been equally heavy-handed throughout. The enigmatic conclusion offers no firm answers about the battle between political engagement and swooning cinephilia, mostly because the politics remain resoundingly abstract compared to the fever dream of naked bodies that's gone before. As muddy as the thematic waters become, though, the performances of all three principals remain exemplary, especially that of Eva Green as the imperious Isabelle. Fine acting, gorgeous cinematography, and alluring eye candy abound -- just don't expect it to add up to anything too concrete.