Film review by: Witney Seibold
The year is 1968, and Matthew (the pasty and pouty Michael Pitt from “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”) is bumming around Paris taking in screening after screening of Fuller, Godard, Truffaut, and Ray (Nick, not Satyajit). When of his favorite movie house is shut down for political reasons, he takes to the streets, and soon meets Theo and Isabel (Louis Garrel and Eva Green), a pair of bratty, free-spirited (not to mention sexy) twins with vacationing parents. It’s not long before Matthew, loving his fellow film geeks, is living with them. They become like the characters in French New Wave films, particularly like in “A Band of Outsiders.” They play guess-the-film-reference games (still in large practice with today’s film geeks), which soon become less-than-mildly-incestuous sex games, which soon become whiny existentialist rambling. The trio run out of money, and wall themselves off from the outside world, alternately ranting and screwing. It all ends rather abruptly, when our antiheroes getting caught up in the outer world.
And that, I’m afraid, is the entirety of Bernardo Bertolucci’s new film “The Dreamers.” It’s not necessarily a bad film, but I suspect that Bertolucci, in trying to make a film about lovers and livers of the New Wave was more interested in his own love of the era’s films and making subtle and undeniably clever references to Godard and Fellini, than he was with making his characters worthy of such a similar character study. Matthew isn’t a meaty role. He’s limp and indecisive, and his aimlessness doesn’t resemble the romantic anarchic freedom of Belmondo in “Breathless.” Indeed his free-floating, blissed-out apathy feels almost like hollow uninterested nihilism. Eva is less a real character, and more the sex fantasy of every film geek: the virginal, large-breasted arty French chick who wants only to talk film and have sex. She has a few outbursts during the course of the film, but … why? We’re given hints, but none convincing. Theo exists to… well to strip and instigate sex acts. And with an NC-17 rating, we’re treated to more penises than any given 10-minute clip of Caligula. It’s an interesting idea: film geeks of the New Wave trying to live the anarchy of “Jules and Jim” get torn up in the attempt. Bertolucci, in trying to make a film about the New Wave, has made an homage. But it’s not all that convincing. It’s a little too drab, too whiny, too – to be frank – Gen-X fatalistic to really have the intended oomph.
Also interesting: are geeks devolving? In the late ‘60s, geeks wanted to live like Belmondo. Geeks today want to blow up the Death Star and fight in the Matrix.
Somethin’ to think about.