2004-02-27 / Columnists

MovieScope By Robert Snyder

The Dreamers

More than 30 years ago,A0Bernardo Ber to lucci took us on a trip to Paris that made cinematic history and a lot of money for actor Marlon Brando. Now, the famous film maker is back in France’s most romantic city and dealing with the same subject matter: Sex.

However, while "Last
Tan go in Paris" concern ed sexual experimentation by an Amer ican ex patriate (Brando) heading toward his twilight years, the director’s re cent release, "The Dream ers," explores youth testing sensual waters for the first time. With the new film, Ber to lucci is again mixing intimacy with the socio-political scene surrounding its main characters.

In this case, it’s 1968 and three 20-year-olds. The central figure is Ameri can exchange student Matthew (Michael Pitt), who shacks up with French twins Isabelle (Eva Green) and Theo (Louis Garrel). They meet at the CinE9matE8que FranE7aise, where pro tests are beginning after the government’s firing of the facility’s founding director, Henri Langlois. Realizing their shared film fanaticism, the trio plays truth-or-dare games based on movie trivia. The parlor sport becomes more and more adventurous after mom and dad go away leaving their incestuous sibling son and daughter to victimize Matthew and themselves.

Exquisitely photographed by Fabio Cianchetti, "The Dreamers" languishes over the nude bodies of its main players, making them appear almost surrealistically beautiful. As with Stanley Kubrick’s "Barry Lyndon," we’re witnessing what appears to be classical art coming to life. In fact, one scene has Isabelle wearing nothing but long black gloves and a sheet below her mid-drift. Teasing Matthew, she claims to be a living Venus de Milo. "I have no arms. I can’t touch you," she says, as Matthew sticks his head un der her sheets and between her legs. But the central idea involves the cinema obsession of the young beauties and the consequences of misidentifying a famed movie scene.

After Theo falters on the naming "Blonde Venus" when Isabelle does a dance from it, she forces to her brother to sexually humiliate himself.A0Theo enacts his revenge by impersonating Paul Muni’s death scene in 1930’s "Scar face" to his sister and Matthewstupefaction. The price for that blunder is Isabelle’s sacrifice of her virginity to her American friend. Surpris ingly, my daughter, Elizabeth, who is 20 and a film major at Hunter College, found "The Dreamers" moronic. May be, it’s merely an old guyremembranceA0 of youth in an era when he him self was young. It could be that’s why I related to it.

However, for twentysomethings today, Bertolucci’s romanticized memoir may have no meaning. My daughter’s opinion, notwithstanding, I welcome what I see as an intelligent movie about young people released in the age of "American Pie."

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