I recently saw a post about movies that are infinitely sexier than 50 Shades of Grey (which no, I have not seen) and The Dreamers was at the top of the list. I had seen this movie a few years ago and it didn't leave much of an impression on me so I decided to revisit it in case I missed some big plot point that made the movie spectacular. I liked the story much more than I did when I first watched it but it still is not anything close to a favorite film.
We only really get to meet a handful of characters in this story, with nearly the entire film taking place in one house with the three main characters.
Obviously I liked Matthew from the very moment he said "I'm from San Diego."
An exchange student in Paris who is obsessed with film, he was anti-war pro-art and just a genuinely innocent, level-headed kid. Then he met the quirky yet charming Isabelle who is a fellow film buff. She is known to imitate scenes from movies and demand that you guess the film or face her wrath. Then we have Theo, Isabelle's fraternal twin brother who is a total pill and didn't win me over even after the second watch.
Throughout the film I was waiting for someone to call the three of them out on the fact that they do nothing. Seriously, nothing. They sit around, drink a lot of wine, talk about movies, and then when the money runs out they call their parents to wire them more money. They were only consuming art, never trying to give anything back. Luckily though, near the end of the film, Matthew calls out Theo on the fact that he is all theory without any action. The self-described Maoist is actually just a bored rich kid.
I didn't fall in love with any of the characters, but Matthew's random words of wisdom helped save the film.
You know, I'm not really all that sure what happens in this story. The back drop is the 1968 Paris riots, when students took to the streets to demand a political and social reevaluation of French society with the use of riots and propaganda. BUT all we really saw was three kids lounging around or occasionally, running around (see below), having sex, and talking about old films.
The more I think about it though, the more I think that the point was actually not to tell a story, but to capture a mood. And that, Bertolucci did perfectly.
The soundtrack is fantastic, as are the film references. It made me was to watch black and white films, drink wine, and move to (not 1968) Paris.
Overall, it is worth a watch but only on a day when you're feeling really lethargic.