Birthday Blitz: The Dreamers (dir. Bernardo Bertolucci, 2003)

Day 11, Movie 11 – Cinephilia and Eroticism

In Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers, the character’s cinephilia is correlated with eroticism.

The three protagonists – American student Matthew (Michael Pitt) and twins Isabel (Eva Green) and Théo (Louis Garrel – are brought together by their love for cinema. They meet at a rally at the Cinémathèque Française, a place for film lovers today that is entrenched in a mystique that transcends movies. Matthew is drawn to the mysterious twins and their playful, theatrical nature. The trio’s relationship quickly grows and revolves around games like performing scenes from infamous movies.

Scenes like this hint at the innocent, childlike behavior exhibited by the characters that only becomes worse. Matthew and Isabel begin a highly erotic sexual relationship with Theo acting as the third wheel. But the twins are attached to each other in the most non-incestuous incestuous way imaginable; Matthew cannot break their bond.

The trio sequesters themselves in the twins’ families apartment, trapped by the erotic nature of their bond and by their love for the cinema.

Matthew recognizes how dysfunctional Theo and Isabel’s relationship is and he tries to come between the pair. It isn’t until something from the outside breaks through the erotic yet innocent world the trio created that ends their relationship.

Movies are exercises in voyeurism. The Dreamers feeds right into that with the film reenactments and the erotic sex scenes. But there is realization that the voyeurism in The Dreamers feeds into an unrealistic reality; it preserves innocence and childlike games. Matthew, Isabel, and Theo are witnesses each other’s behavior but only Matthew becomes alarmed by it and seeks to change it. Of the three, Matthew will and can move beyond their relationship; Theo and Isabel literally run into a riot and into chaos.

This post is part of my Birthday Blitz Marathon.

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