Since the advent of the NC-17 rating over a decade ago there has yet to be a single movie released that utilizes it in such a way as to create true cinematic art. Instead all we have gotten has been (borderline) softcore porn. In the case of Academy Award winning director Bernardo Bertolucci’s latest, The Dreamers, the modern day french new wave noir mixes with a plethora of penises. Is it penises or penii? Either way, the flick sucks it.
Young student, Matthew (Michael Pitt), is studying in 1968 Paris. His passion though, is to go to the famed Cinemateque and watch movies. Upon arriving at the Cinemateque one afternoon he finds the place closed down courtesy of the French Government. But no loss, he runs off with a pair of local strangers; brother and sister Isabelle and Theo (Eva Green, Louis Garrel).
Matthew is full of presumptions, thoughts on life, and likes to pee in sinks. Isabelle is vibrant, enthusiastic, and likes watching her brother masturbate in the corner. Theo is politically active, chain smokes, and loves naked garbage picking. Put them all in one apartment for some undetermined amount of time and guess what happens: Nudity, Nudity, Nudity. When it appears that Matthew is having too much sex with Isabelle, Theo is angry, jealous, and goes out to find the first person to sleep with him. Which in turn makes Isabelle jealous. They’re twins. They’re related. Incest isn’t erotic or entertaining. It’s downright.... icky. It did not work in The Godfather Part III and it does not work here.
Outside of the walls of the apartment historical, social, and political change is going on, but it doesn’t phase the trio one bit, not even when they all bathe in the same tub together. Only then is it slightly brought up but is then quickly thrown aside when Matthew becomes rapidly offended while the twins attempt to shave his region. A rich history and an interesting political take on the time is wasted as nothing more then a casual backdrop. Apocalypse Now breached the topic of the French’s view on Vietnam, but it was cut out only to be restored in it’s Redux version, here it’s used as nothing more than a way to bookend the flick. The trio pays no attention to what was going on out there and isn’t about to care either... that is until a brick goes through the window, not only shattering the glass but also shattering the possibility of an interesting ending. Isabelle and Theo’s parents walk in on the three of them passed out, nakedly interwoven with each other. Isabelle realizes their presence afterwards and prepares to commit suicide, taking Theo and Matt with her. Cue the brick. What the hell? What kind of cop out is that?
Pitt, Green, and Garrell’s performances are all rather well done given the crap they had to do. Their portrayals are the only thing that makes this flick watchable. All of the performances, from all the members of the cast are superb, though none of them can stop this ship from sinking. Where Bertolucci’s direction is concerned - it may work in Europe but over here it’s just gross. I like my boobage to have substance, either that or just be plain old porn. Falling somewhere in between doesn’t cut it. Artsy fartsy boobs and shaft has not worked since Quest for Fire, and that’s only because nobody said anything. Bertolucci should return his Oscar for giving us this creepy excuse to beat off.
The Dreamers should be the title for the people who brought us this filth, because they were dreaming if they thought we would buy this tripe. Movies about people who sit around talking about movies works for Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino, yet you’ll never see Jay quiz Silent Bob on a flick and if he gets it wrong command sexual favors from him. If Showgirls is the Gone With The Wind of the NC-17 rating, The Dreamers ranks somewhere with From Justin to Kelly in comparison. Instead of going out and renting this this week, get some porn; it’ll do you some good. At least porn doesn’t get you frustrated when it’s over.
Two featurettes, a commentary, and a music video - That’s all you’ll get on this disc; Those and a teaser for this summer’s Garden State, which seems more out of place than a Rabbi at a Klan meeting.
The first featurette calls itself a documentary. Entitled “Bertolucci Makes The Dreamers”, it watches the director working with his cast and crew to try and get the best that he can get, and sees him claim he’s not a perv for photographing 20 something’s screwing (being that he’s in his 60's - Sick Freak). The second, called “Outside the Window: Events in France, May, 1968” is actually quite educational, centering on the real events that inspired crappy plot points in the flick. If anything, after watching it you wish they had used more of this backdrop rather than sticking it as bookends to arty porn.
The Commentary from Bertolucci, producer Jeremy Thomas, and writer Gilbert Adair is a hard commentary to sit through. It’s the worst kind of group commentary there is, where everybody is recorded separately. Plus all three of them are from different parts of Europe so it’s slightly hard to get through their thick accents. Somewhere towards the middle of the commentary I nodded off for four hours. Not a good sign.
Now on to the music video. It’s bad enough the flick sucks. It’s bad enough one of their featurettes makes the flick suck more. It’s bad enough the commentary wooed me into a coma. With this they’ve committed musical blasphemy: actor Michael Pitt covers Jimmi Hendrix classic “Hey Joe”. It’s not like a re-envisioned cover, it’s like they erased Hendrix’s vocal track and plugged in Pitt’s. It’s totally not the same thing at all, and the “video” is nothing more than a collection of clips cut into Pitt in a recording studio. No imagination there either. What crap.
The only good thing on this disc was one of the two featurettes. The rest makes you hate the flick more. But for my final verdict, I’ll give it an extra ½ star for the effort made by the cast. Other than that, crap flick, crap DVD.