The Dreamers

Dull "erotique" drama about a young American named Matthew (Leonardo DiCaprio lookalike Michael Pitt) who goes to Paris in 1968 to study French and avoid Vietnam. He befriends Theo and Isabelle (Louis Garrel and Eva Green), two French-English siblings who share his passion for the movies, and when their bohemian parents leave town for a few weeks, they invite him to stay with them.

What follows is an essentially plotless, weak, and pretentious lust triangle, with all three getting hot and bothered by each other, resulting in lame stabs at controversy - incest! bisexuality! masturbation! - which in the end amounts to just a big tease - and not an exciting one at that. What the ads fail to tell you is that much of The Dreamers consists of these three spoiled brats running off at the mouth, alternately arguing and gushing about le cinema. What they have to say is neither fresh nor familiar. Now, I love the movies. And for me not to connect with a film about people supposedly just like me, well, there's something wrong.

The story takes place against the backdrop of the 1968 Paris riots, which began as a response to the government firing the head of the Cinematheque Fran├žaise. This real-life event is meant to justify the three characters' rather unbelievable obsession with film, as if to say, "This was a time and a place where riots could happen due to people's love of cinema." Well great. I mean, I went to film school, I've had many passionate, heated arguments over films, then and now. But that doesn't make it fun to watch people doing same on screen, especially when they're not actual film buffs but beautiful young actors who probably wouldn't know the difference between Keaton and Chaplin if you held a gun to their heads. (Green even has her armpits shaved - what leftist French girl in 1968 would do such a thing?) The frequent use of classic film clips only reminded me of how good those oldies were, compared to this overbaked perfume ad of a movie.

Visually, it's great stuff: the camera is lively and the apartment that Matthew, Theo, and Isabelle are often confined to is wonderfully decorated and lit. And the kids are good-looking. But few things irritate me more than something meaningless that's pretending to be meaningful. There is nothing titillating or even interesting about the film, down to its self-conscious title. And Bertolucci can't help but inject more of his tireless cheerleading for Communism, which once seemed relevant, then became outmoded, and now simply seems nostalgic. Cinema - and cinephiles - have outgrown 1968 Paris. It's too bad Bertolucci hasn't as well.