The Dreamers

Unfortunately, Uni business has halted my continuing film amnesty of late. Allow me to rectify this with a look at The Dreamers– a film so French, I felt it hated me as soon as I put it in the DVD player.

The Dreamers (2003)


I, like most other red-blooded males (and some females) only really knew The Dreamers as the film where Eva Green gets her Vespers out. However, surely there’s got to be more to it than that? Well, yeah- there is.

“I don’t believe in God, but if I did, he would be a black, left-handed guitarist”

The plot follows American student Matthew (Michael Pitt) and his adventures in France. Through his love of cinema he meets brother and sister combo Theo (Louis Garrel) and Isabelle (Eva Green). He is eventually drawn further and further in to their bizarre relationship when he moves in with them over the summer. The story itself is pretty good, with enough attention paid to each of the three main characters to keep them fresh and interesting. I thought all the actors put in great performances and played off each other well.

Right, apart from Eva Green getting her Algerian Love Knots out (I’m determined to make one of these work as a joke) the other big thing this film is known for is the incest angle. It’s not as black and white as all that. I liked the way that the film presented Theo and Isabelle as co-dependent, having an almost symbiotic relationship. It’s not trying to be controversial for controversy’s sake, it’s purposefully taking a rare path (I’m pretty sure there’s innuendo here, so shut it) to further explore these characters. I warmed to the film almost immediately as after the flashy titles, there is a love of cinema presented from the off. Much like the characters in the film, I am usually saying lines from movies and expecting my long-suffering friends to answer what film that specific line is from with the same eager enthusiasm that I delivered it in. However, I normally get a gruff “bugger off”. I really liked the use of clips from films like the 1939 film Scarface and Tarantino favourite Bande á part.

However, could we please, please, please stop having films set in the 1960’s that are packed with all the clichés that people think of when they think of that decade? As soon as the date appeared on the screen, we cut to a protest, eliciting an “Ah, fuck…” from me. Yes, this is historically accurate, but I’m just sick of seeing the ’60s portrayed in such a glossed-over way. I wasn’t around for the ’60s but logic tells me that during this decade of great change there wasn’t a protest on every street, there were people who didn’t like Jimi Hendrix’s music and there were people who thought that the “free love” atmosphere was just an excuse for dirty hippies to get their leg over. This isn’t exclusive to The Dreamers and in fact, it stays away from most of the over romanticised pitfalls but not far away enough for my liking.

I thought the ending was a bit of a cop-out too. (Invisotexted) Having Isabelle gas them made sense- not only was she carrying out what she said she’d do if they were discovered, but the three of them would be united in death, a romantic fantasy mainstay. I was all ready to applaud the film for this bold ending when the film seemingly loses its bottle and goes for a much more ambiguous ending which didn’t do anything for me.

“In this big, epic movie – everyone is an extra.”

So, that was The Dreamers. It’s a well-directed, well-written piece that could have been really good if it stuck to its guns and been a bit more daring.

One thought on “The Dreamers”

  1. I agree with most things here, but I think it’s maybe a bit unfair to criticize the film for its inclusion of Parisian rioting… I mean, that is actually what it is ABOUT, so it’s not so much a cultural setting, it’s rather like just objecting to the plot.But as for the Hendrix-bum-raping, I’m with you there. I’m not a big Hendrix fan, but I’m not allowed to ever tell that to anyone…

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