hey there! i'm not sure how you ended up here but i'm glad you did! i'm currently a uni mathematics student.
i do not have a lot to write about, honestly. i wanted to get off social media and this is what i am preparing in order to do that.
please be patient with me and check back for updates, if you care. your friend, conor.
February 27, 2020:
Trigger Warning: (incest & rape) and spoiler alert. Please read with caution. This is my synopsis and review of The Dreamers. I've never written a film review. Let me know your thoughts.
Have you ever watched something that made you feel disgusted yet you could not turn off the movie? For me that experience was while watching Italian director Bertolucci's 2003 incest polyamory film, The Dreamers.
The Dreamers is based on the screenplay writer Gilbert Adair's novel The Holy Innocents. If you, like me, are a "film buff" then Bertolucci's name may seem familiar. He is known for many films, The Conformist, The Last Emperor,
The Little Buddha (where Keanu Reeves does brown face), but what you are probably recalling is Last Tango in Paris. Bertolucci's 1972 "erotic" drama film starring none other than heavy weight actor Marlon Brando
and amazing actress Maria Schneider, it is infamous for an scene where Brando's character anally rapes Schneider's character. This scene was reported as being simulated but if I am being honest, I'm not sure if it was or wasn't.
Maria Schneider had stated that she felt like she had been actually raped by Brando and that she was taken advantage of by the much older Brando and Bertolucci. The film has two versions, NC-17 and R.
The NC-17 version has the rape scene and the R version does not. I have not scene either version of this film and feel no need to. Needless to say, Bertolucci is a controversial director.
I knew the basic plot of The Dreamers going into the film and who the film was directed by. I went into watching the movie with these things in mind and felt like I was watching it from a highly critical point of view.
The movie starts with Matthew (Played by Michael Pitt: I Origins, Funny Games), a young american who is in France as a student in the 1960's during the Paris student riots. He states that he has joined something
of a French free-masonry group but for film buffs. He is fixated on two people in particular, Isabelle (played by Eva Green: Casino Royal, Penny Dreadful) and Theo (played by Louis Garrel: Little Women, Regular Lovers)
who also attend the same screenings as he does at the local (and quite famous) Cinémathèque Française. During a protest over the firing of Henri Langlois, Matthew meets Isabelle and the viewers believe that Isabelle has chained
herself to a large gate. We will see this image again, of Isabelle looking as if does not have forearms later in the film where she stands in a black doorway with elbow length black gloves on to give the impression of herself as Venus de Milo.
While Matthew is questioning her and finds out she is in fact not chained the gate, Theo approaches both of them and the audience is filled with the first dose of sexual tension. A common feeling going forward with the movie. Fast forwarding a bit,
they become very close. Isabelle and Theo invite Matthew over for dinner at their home. Matthew believing that they are a couple, finds out that they are in fact twins. Not only are they twins, but they were conjoined twins
(or Siamese as Theo puts it). Matthew is introduced to their father, a famous french author, and there is a lingering scene where Isabelle's father touches the small of her back in an intimate manner. I personally chalk that up to
French sensibilities especially since it is from Matthew's point of view and the culture of intimacy in France is quite different than America. After a dinner situated with pretentious and philosophical dialogue, Matthew learns that the twin's parents
will be leaving to go to the seaside for a month. Living in a crummy hotel, the twin's invite Matthew to move in. This is where things start to get a bit strange. Remember that trigger warning?
Theo takes Matthew to the spare room, walking through the seemingly impossible structure that is their home. Up on the top floor of a three story building, with winding hallways and doors that make no sense. The home
would (most likely) be impossible to draw out the schematics for. The hallways are lined with more books than you can count which Matthew is impressed by. Matthew on his way back from finding the bathroom, sees
Theo and Isabelle laying naked with one another in bed in Theo's room. He is taken back by this sight, as most people would be, and this is where the concept of incest comes into play. You may be wondering if you'd turn off
the movie right there, as one probably should, and at the same time questioning my choice not to. Matthew inevitably confronts them and they admit to being in a romantic relationship with one another.
We are unsure of the sexual element of their relationship. From this point on, time seems to evaporate and it is uncertain how much passes during the second act of the film.
The second act of the film is an effervescent whirlwind of an idealistic view of the 1960's French art underground. We have book reading, wine drinking, debauchery, and whimsy.
One cannot help but be swept away with the rising action. In the middle of all of this, we slowly see the unraveling of the built up sexual tension present in the first act.
"Guess what film" is the device doing the unraveling in a series of "Identify the film or take the penalty." We see two penalties in this movie. The first is at the hands of Isabelle, who asks Theo to correctly identify
the film Blonde Venus which he fails to do and is asked to masturbate in front of her and Matthew to a picture of an actress hanging on the wall. He cums onto the photo and Isabelle wipes it off with her fingers.
The second penalty is when Theo acts out a scene from Scarface and both Isabelle and Matthew fail to identify. The penalty is that Isabelle and Matthew must "make love" to one another in front of Theo.
After a small chase scene and a full viewing of Michael Pitt's cock, we find out through what is believed to be a simulated sex scene that Isabelle is a virgin.
Matthew then wipes her blood onto her face. From this scene on, there is a lot of sex between Matthew and Isabelle.
Towards the end of the second act and into the third, Matthew confronts Isabelle on her attachment to Theo. No, I'm not talking about their literal attachment as conjoined twins, but her emotional one.
Matthew asks her questions concerning if she has ever been on a date with a man who was not her brother. Matthew then asks her to go on one with him. Matthew wants to see Isabelle's room,
which in his stay he never has, nor the audience. She protests saying no one is having sex in her bed. We do finally see her room, where some of the last narration given by Matthew
(did I forget to mention that most of the film is narrated by Matthew) stating that he has uncovered a side of Isabelle that she did not want him to see. This side was on first glance, a scientific side.
We see medical textbooks, microscopes, and even a prosthetic. Directly following this is the scene mentioned earlier where she comes in wearing the black gloves giving the image of the Venus de Milo.
She sits on Matthews face while stating over and over again that "I have no arms, I can't stop you, I can't stop you." This brings a thought to the audience, coupled with the conjoined twin concept, that she has some
kind of medical fetish. That's my thought anyways. They are interrupted by sounds a song that upsets Isabelle and one can presume is her and Theo's song but Theo is playing it for a female guest he has over,
or at least makes her believe he has over. We are never actually shown if he does or does not.
This is coupled with Isabelle screaming at Matthew saying to "Get out! I don't know who you are! Get out now!"
This leads us up to the final moments of our film. Isabelle has constructed a blanket fort in the living room where they all cuddle inside of. They fall asleep.
Their parents come home early the next morning, sees that the house is destroyed and also the trio laying naked with one another inside the fort. This surprises and concerns them
but not as much as you'd think. Maybe they are unsure what to think. They place a check next to the fort and leave quietly. Isabelle wakes up and chugs some wine before laying eyes on the check.
She knows now that her parents have seen them. Earlier in the film, Matthew asks what she would do if her parents ever found out and she says, point blank, that she would kill herself.
She goes to the kitchen and hooks a hose up to the gas and brings the hose back to the fort. Her own suicide/murder is spliced with the film Mouchette, where a young woman rolls down a hill into a lake
in an attempt to kill herself. This suicide/murder attempt is interrupted by a brick being thrown through the window, waking them all up. Isabelle quickly rolls up the hose before Theo and Matthew realize.
They ask what is going on and she says "The street has come in through the window". Outside there are tons of people marching against police.
The trio joins in the march. Theo grabs a Molotov cocktail and Matthew stops him. Stating that this is violence and that they are non-violent.
Unmoved by words, Matthew kisses Theo. In this last minute of the film, Matthew separates from the twins and lets them go while he vanishes into the crowd.
Theo throws the lit Molotov and in slow motion, the police come running towards the camera, and the credits start to roll backwards.
The Dreamers is an interesting film. I won't tell you it's worth your time or that you absolutely must watch it. What I will tell you is that I enjoyed watching it.
I thought the movie was technically proficient with a fast yet mesmerizing pace through doorways of taboo eroticism, communism, and first and foremost, a love of classical film.
The question is do we need a movie exploring the taboos of incest? For me the answer is no, we do not. This movie was not filmed from a critical standpoint
and it did not explore the taboo in such a way. It would have been a much better movie had it done so. The film is morally ambiguous and it is left up the viewer to examine how they feel about such an exploration,
if the film can even be credited with that. Isabelle's character is underdeveloped, as you can imagine. Her character is simply objectified as the young thin virgin who needs a man to sexually liberate her.
We don't get much more depth than that. She is the Venus de Milo statue, beautiful to look at but historically mysterious. Who is this movie for? Without the incest, it would be for the film lover.
Someone who would understand the countless references to classical film that is shown spliced in. The film is for the non-monogamous lovers who see themselves in such a triad.
For the teenage dreamer who gets a glimpse at their first dive into underground art culture. Unfortunately, with the incest, the film is for no one. In my overall opinion, The Dreamers falls flat
and corners itself into the realm of the exploitation film, even worse, the uncritical kind. The shock of the incest wears off and you are left wondering what the point is.
Maybe I am simply missing the point and the metaphor but I don't think incest is the right metaphor for whatever convoluted thing that is trying to be said.
This film fades away into obscurity with the rest of Bertolucci's "erotic" films.