The Dreamers

Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, written by Gilbert Adair

Reviewed by Adam Ford

Set against the vibrant background of riotous Paris in the spring of 1968, The Dreamers tells the story of three young film students, their lives and (not surprisingly) their dreams.

Despite the ferment and tumult on the streets, the movie’s narrative centres around the complicated relationships between brother Theo (Louis Garrel), sister Isabelle (Eva Green) and their newfound American friend Matthew (Michael Pitt).

When Theo and Isabelle's English mother (Anna Chancellor) and rich poet father (Robin Renucci) leave them in charge of their comfortable middle-class home, the siblings invite Matthew to stay with them. Sensing a kindred spirit, they involve him in their re-enactments of classic film scripts, and increasingly bizarre mind games. Cocooned in their own little world, they are for the most part oblivious to the social upheaval going-on around them. Police sirens wail outside, whilst inside the self-styled cultural revolutionaries mouth slogans like they’ve been plucked from the script of a really cool film. Eventually they come to a realisation of sorts, but…well I won’t spoil it.

The Dreamers mixes many of the distinctive Bertolucci trademarks. The unabashed censor-baiting of Last Tango in Paris meets the sumptuous cinematography seen in Besieged. But for all its flashy camerawork, often slick scripting and some fine performances (especially Garrel), it somehow manages to disappoint, because the viewer is left wondering what the point of the exercise is. Maybe the lack of a point is the point, but I really can’t be bothered trying to work it out.