A review of “The Dreamers” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: * 1/2

Rating: NC-17 for language and full frontal nudity

Run Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes

 

 

I embrace the concept of onscreen nudity, especially if it’s tastefully crafted.  I do not embrace pretentious crap in the guise of art.

French cinema, circa 1968, bred a raft of devoted zealots who lived and breathed the Cinematheque Française and the birth of La Nouvelle Vague (French New Wave). This freemasonry of cinephiles considered itself the height of intellect and self-discovery, saturated in a youthful and turbulent political revolution.

In the midst of Paris’ cultural hotbed is introspective American student Matthew (Michael Pitt), who is “adopted” by French siblings Isabelle (Eva Green) and Theo (Louis Garrel) and unceremoniously escorted to home sweet home.  Though they profess a desire for his friendship, the pair appears to be playing Matthew for a fool, engaging him in twisted psychological games with nasty sexual and social implications.

With mom and dad on holiday, the spoiled brats have the run of the Paris flat.  Among other deviant experiments is a diverting film contest known as Name the Film or Forfeit.  The Forfeit being as perverse as watching your sister get it on on the kitchen floor with your newfound friend.

Disenfranchised youth spells relentless bacchanalia, without the benefit of narrative structure or purpose. The film’s only subtle entertainment is watching its trio of young protagonists re-enacting scenes from famous old movies.

Performances are insufferably self-assured in a manner only youthful naiveté can sustain. Pitt is as dry as vermouth, all hooded lids and monotone delivery.  Green is the worst kind of tease, with nothing but a spectacular body to back up her promiscuous promises. Script is a thing of beauty, if you cotton to pseudo-intellectualism and pop philosophy (“There’s no such thing as love, only proof of love”).

The tantalizing NC-17 rating is supported by a relentless parade of naked bed and bath scenes. Director Bernardo Bertolucci (The Last Emperor) seems enamored of his voyage of experimental discovery, but all I see are miserably obnoxious youngsters trying desperately to grow up.