Tuesday, May 17, 2005
The day before yesterday, I saw a film called The Dreamers. I wanted to watch it for a long time, so, in the end, I rented a DVD (which seems like a stupid and expensive move, but which was worth it), and watched it.
The film was directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, and scripted by Gilbert Adair. It was based on Adair’s novel The Holy Innocents. While writing the movie, he rewrote the book as The Dreamers. I had read this second version, and thought it was good but not illuminating or anything brilliant. In fact, it was somewhat boring.
But the film was utterly fabulous. It stars Michael Pitt, Eva Green (who was recently in Kingdom of Heaven) and Louis Garrel. Green and Garrel play the Siamese twins Isabelle and Theo, and Pitt plays Matthew, who is drawn into their world of film, sex and intellectual discussion, and then, when the twins’ parents leave town, Matthew moves in and they try to find their identities together.
The film is at once beautiful, sad and elegant, and the numerous film references never jar. There is a lot of nudity by all three leads (full frontal), but it is an essential part of the film rather than being simply titillating. In fact, for me, the most erotic scene was this fully clothed one: after having dinner, Isa gets up and kisses her brother on the lips. Then she turns to kiss Matthew, and her hair catches fire on a candle. Matthew puts it out, and then they kiss. “Are you staying?” she says. “Are you OK?” he asks. “Yeah, I’m OK.” That’s the most erotic scene for me.
There are problems with the film. The camera is a part of the action, as much a character as the other three, but sometimes it jars. And the characters are never very well-developed. It is as if the film needs all the outer references to survive. And lastly, the film’s climax is in the Venus de Millo scene, but it goes on for another fifteen minutes, which, while making the outcome clear, are pointless.
After everything, this film is more for film fanatics and critics than more casual film fans, but it is beautiful. Also, the film is lacking in pace, but the references usually pick it up, which is one reason they are there. Also, the film is a bit pretentious, but then, many great films are.
The film differs from the book in many respects. In the book, Matthew dies – here he doesn’t. In the book, Theo and Matthew have sex, here they don’t, which makes Theo’s connection to the others somewhat dubious and more implied than apparent in the film. But these are minor grouses.
An extensive review will soon be posted on my website.
PS: If you thought this post was boring, please wait for the next post – it’ll be more interesting.