Thursday, April 17, 2008

Review: The Dreamers (2003)

The Dreamers is Bernardo Bertolucci's somewhat nostalgic look back at the turbulent year 1968 in France. It is based on material from three novels, The Holy Innocents, The Dreamers, and Buenas Noches, Buenos Aires. The film focuses on Matthew, an American student (Michael Pitt), and the Parisian friends he meets, fraternal twins Isabelle and Theo (Eva Green and Louis Garrel). The beginning of the film is focused on the closing of La Cinémathèque Française and the dismissal of its director Henri Langlois. The trio are all "cinephiles." Theo and Isabelle wonder about the new, silent boy who has been coming to all the screenings, just as Matthew wonders who those "cool" people are.

*Spoiler Alert*

*Spoiler Alert*

The twins have an incestuous relationship. The final version of the film does not have any sexual contact between Theo and Isabelle (though they are intimately involved in each other's sex lives and have no boundaries). However, incestuous scenes were shot but ended up on the cutting room floor. Incestuous but not... I may be confusing you. There are a couple of graphic scenes, one each where one twin has to pay "the forfeit" for not correctly naming a movie (cinephiles, remember?) Both times, the forfeit is of a sexual nature. As the movie progresses, Isabelle and Matthew get romantically involved, as Theo watches from afar. Sexual scenes between Theo and Matthew were cut from the final version.

The Dreamers was extremely hard for Baby A and myself to watch at times. I had this analogy for my professor (I had to watch this movie for a class): Parents are sacred. It is usually nearly impossible to see our parents as sexual creatures. If you have a twin, your twin is more sacred than your parents. (Note: this is my personal opinion. Some twins can discuss sexual encounters, deep feelings for significant others, etc. Baby A and I prefer not to. We have open dialogue, but not that open. We each talk about our boyfriends, but not in excess. And not anything detailed.)
The twins' absolute involvement in the other one's sexuality was deeply disturbing.

Some of the dialogue from the twins about being twins was very truthful, though taken to the extreme. I found out after the fact, from my professor, that in one of the novels (all written by Gilbert Adair, who also wrote the screenplay), it is one androgynous character with whom Matthew becomes involved with, not fraternal twins. This explains why Adair wrote the twins to be so dependent on each other and to describe themselves as being one person. Twins know that a part of your identity is being your twin's twin, so I could relate to some of what Isabelle and Theo said. The twin bond is intense, though I doubt that anyone would disagree with me saying that Theo and Isabelle's relationship was a lot too intense.

One scene that made me feel conflicted was the end, when Isabelle chooses Theo the violent revolutionary over Matthew the ideological pacifist. Of course, the scene was sad, but I think it would have upset me more if she had abandoned her twin, despite the fact that their relationship upset me very much.

On a side note, I guess it was weird seeing such fervent declarations come from fraternal boy-girl twins, but only because the fraternals I have known personally are more like singleton siblings. I do not have anything negative or condescending to say about the fraternal twin bond. That has only been my own experience. I have met one pair of female fraternals who were very close.

I think that is all I have to say about The Dreamers. I felt a little shell shocked after watching it. But I suppose that's what some people feel defines a good movie.

Till next time,
Baby B

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