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The Dreamers (Bernardo Bertolucci - 2003)

I'm a little ashamed to admit that this is the only Bertolucci film I've seen. But then, if his other films are as superficial and self-important as this one, do I really want to see them?

The Dreamers follows young American cinephile Matthew (a bland Michael Pitt) as he studies abroad in 1960's Paris. He spends most of his time in the front row of the Cinémathèque Française, taking in countless films, contemporary and classic alike. It's there he meets the uber-hip brother sister duo of Theo (Louis Garrel) and Isabelle (Eva Green), with whom Matthew eventually takes up residence. Despite their relatively destitute living conditions, everything is just peachy for the culture-obsessed trio. They ramble on endlessly about their place in society and the merits of Jimi Hendrix. And when Matthew discovers the siblings' deeply rooted incestuous relationship, Isabelle and Theo have few qualms about letting their new friend in on the fun. But it all comes to a crashing halt as their secret is let out and violence erupts around them.

The film fails on so many levels I don't even know where to start. As a love letter to cinematically-impassioned young people and the French New Wave movement itself, The Dreamers is a pretentious dud. The inclusion of the 1968 student riots is both superfluous and mishandled. And the love triangle, the core of the film, is an inauthentic mess. All three main characters are unlikable, contemptuous pomps who say a lot without actually saying anything. It doesn't help that the three central performances are, like the film, totally lacking in subtlety and real emotion.

Everything The Dreamers tries to accomplish is ultimately either half-realized or poorly executed.

Certain scenes do work, at least on their own terms. The exuberant run through the Louvre (in tribute to Godard's Bande À Parte) especially stands out. And yeah, Eva Green is pretty easy on the eyes. It's hard to imagine I came close to walking out on a movie in which she's naked for more than half of her screentime. But it doesn't take very long for this heavy-handed salmagundi to overstay its welcome.

Swedish Rating: