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Dreamers, The

Director: Bernado Bertolucci

(UK-France-Italy-USA| 2003. Filmed in English and French; English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 115 mins.)


Director Bernardo Bertolucci’s latest is so successful at suggesting the head-spinning ferment of Paris ’68, you watch it with a twinge of jealousy that you weren’t there yourself. It’s a voyage of discovery for American student Michael Pitt, who’s soon in thrall to the Cinematheque Française, caught up in the demonstrations after the French government fired its founder Henri Langlois, and an excited guest in the labyrinthine apartment of two fellow believers, inseparable brother and sister Eva Green and Louis Garrel. Jean-Luc Godard posters on the walls and Hendrix on the stereo set the scene while debate rages over the relative merits of Keaton and Chaplin. Cinephile obsessions and raging hormones prove a volatile mix however, as sexual tensions thrumming between the threesome spring provocative game-playing. And outside, the streets are exploding . . .
There’s an air of wistful nostalgia in Gilbert Adair’s screen adaptation of his novel The Holy Innocents, but the film’s vision of a time when movies and politics intoxicated as much as the reverie of desire is both slinkily seductive and mindful that the real action is unfolding outside the cosseted enclaves we create for ourselves. Although the film perhaps lacks the heft of his ’70s prime, Bertolucci hasn’t lost his control of the subtle pulsations of mood and moment, while his interpolation of numerous cinephile references (the protagonists even recreate the Louvre dash from Godard’s Bande à part) is dramatically relevant, utterly sincere and dead savvy. What’s more, he’s come up trumps with his young performers, who’re right on the mark, and look terrific, with clothes, or (quite frequently) without.

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