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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'The Dreamers': A Pleasureful Depiction of 1960's-Era Rebellion and Sexual Awakening in Paris

Movie poster for the 2003 film "The Dreamers"

The Dreamers (2003) is a pleasureful coming-of-age drama set against the backdrop of the 1968 Paris student riots. The film delves into the world of three young cinephiles: American exchange student Matthew (Michael Pitt) and idiosyncratic French twins Isabelle (Eva Green) and Theo (Louis Garrel).

Matthew first meets Isabelle and Theo at a protest and is immediately drawn in—all three quickly forming a spirited camaraderie. When the twins' parents leave for a trip abroad, the youngsters sequester themselves in the family's grand Parisian apartment—embarking on a journey of self-discovery, sexual exploration and cinematic obsession. Their shared love for film leads them to enact scenes from their favorite movies, creating a dreamlike, almost incestuous atmosphere. Meanwhile, the streets of Paris are aflame with revolution, yet the trio remains oblivious to the world outside, engrossed in their private world of fantasies.

Based on the novel "The Holy Innocents" by Gilbert Adair and directed by Bernardo Bertolucci (Last Tango in Paris, The Conformist), The Dreamers adroitly captures a wistful spirit of youthfulness and rebellion. Bertolucci's film serves as much an ode to cinema as a tale of personal discovery and the loss of innocence. Featuring an evocative soundtrack and a deep sense of nostalgia, The Dreamers succeeds in conveying the profound influence that cinema can have on personal identity and the complexities of human relations.


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