Greetings, Glancers! Today I run a more critical eye over my tenth favourite movie of the year 2003, seeking to ignore my bias and provide a fair score based on the 20 criteria I feel are most important in the creation of a film. Today’s movie is The Dreamers, Bernardo Bertolucci’s steamy tale of rebellion, romance, and social awakening in 1960s Paris.
Sales: 3. Being a non-Hollywood movie, it was never going to send the world on fire. It made back its budget, just about. It’s a high 2 or low 3.
Critical Consensus: 3. I don’t think you can get to 4 on this one. A small number of critics loved it, most were middling. I was hoping for a re-evaluation after the cast became big, or after Bertolucci died, but not yet.
Director: 4. It’s something of a heady mixture between Last Tango and Bertolucci’s love for film, art, and youth. Most of the film takes place in a single setting, and he uses that setting to emphasis the warmth and discomfort of friendship.
Performances: 5. Similar to the film taking place mainly in a single setting, the majority of the film focuses on Eva Green, Michael Pitt, and Louis Garrel. It’s a young cast tackling some difficult stuff, but each performer handles themselves, each other, and the material so naturally that the film has a fly on the wall feel. Obviously there’s a lot of bravery when it comes to the nudity, but there seems to be a lot of trust between everyone and nothing feels forced.
Characters: 4. Although I’m neither French, nor American, nor lived through the Paris riots of 1968, I feel an affinity with the characters. I think that anyone who went to University or had that cultural clash of being thrown in with new people and ideas will feel a similar affinity. It’s one of those instances of feeling nostalgia for something you didn’t directly experience. Normally I’d go with a 3 here because the characters do feel somewhat like stock students – fiery, opinionated, certain in their believes and their ability to change the world – which we’ve seen time and time again on screen, but there’s something more captivating about them, coupled with the writing and the setting which gets me up to a 4. 2-4 is the range here, I feel.
Cinematography: 3. I guess you could get up to 4 here, when considering the exterior scenes and even those of the Louvre, but the majority of the film seems to cast a grimy, pseudo-bohemian wash over things which doesn’t make for a particularly eye-catching affair.
Writing: 4. This will likely depend on how you feel about the aforementioned characters – there’s a lot of talk of film, politics, art, and philosophy, then onto sexual awakening and finding your place in a society which may be actively trying to crush you. If it all sounds too ‘student’, then chances are you won’t care for any of it.
Plot: 3. There isn’t a lot in the way of plot from a traditional storytelling perspective – an American student transfers to Paris and ends up living with a pair of Hippy-esque twins. The form a tight unit, learning from and clashing with each other, all while the Paris Student uprising is bubbling.
Wardrobe: 4. <Inserts joke about the clothes coming off instead of staying on>. Authentic for the time and place, and reminiscent of every student ever.
Editing: 4. I don’t usually go higher than 3 in this category unless there’s something outstanding. This has a lot of cool moments where older movies are spliced into things – specifically around the Louvre scenes.
Make up and Hair: 3. Sure.
Effects: 3. A 3 for N/A.
Art and Set: 4. Again, go 3 or lower if you don’t care for the look, but it nails the student digs look and vibe – messy, cluttered with cultural icons, with only the barest essentials on display and taking a a lower priority than the true necessities like records, posters, and cigarettes.
Sound And Music: 4. A great soundtrack featuring Dylan, Hendrix, and other 60s squires from the US and from France, mixed with more traditional French elements. It’s cool and it works.
Cultural Significance: 3. A strange one because it’s very much a film about culture and significance. But the film sadly has not become too significant in itself. It was Eva Green’s breakthrough, and Michael Pitt’s too, and it was one of Bertolucci’s last films. So significant from a Cinephile’s perspective, but it hasn’t become widely enough seen or known to make any wider impact.
Accomplishment: 3. On the surface it doesn’t seem like the most difficult source material to convert onto the screen, but making it so watchable and youthful and authentic is an accomplishment to be lauded.
Stunts: 3. Another 3 for N/A
Originality: 3. It’s a similar kind of story you’ll have seen or read or experienced before – it’s coming of age. It just happens to have been made by a very specific director with a very specific tone.
Miscellaneous: 3. Not a lot to mention beyond it being a good gateway into foreign film because it deals with some universal subject matter and stars some familiar faces.
Personal: 5. I love it. Pitt and Green have long been two of my favourite performers, and it’s cool to see them here in their youth. Even with the nudity, it’s very accessible, and I can’t help but be reminded of my own Student days.
Total Score: 71/100.
Let us know your scores in the comments!