Trent Film Society Presents: The Dreamers (2003)

The main cast of Dreamers

We at Trent Film Society would like to thank everyone for coming out to our screening of Amélie at Market Hall.

We are continuing on with our theme of French cinema with Bernardo Bertolucci’s 2003 film, The Dreamers, starring (a very young) Eva Green and Michael Pitt.

The Dreamers is Bertolucci’s love-letter to French Cinema.

Bertolucci transports us back to the spring of 1968; a time of social upheaval in France, a time of the Cinémathèque Française and a youth passionately involved in the French New Wave cinema; a time of change and promise.

American exchange student Matthew has come to Paris to learn the language and experience the culture, while quickly befriending siblings Théo and Isabelle. Matthew finds himself caught up in their world of social activism, intellectual discourse and fanatical fascination with the cinema.

But it quickly becomes apparent to Matthew that this brother-sister duo is radically unconventional, and harbours a co-dependency for one another that borders on obsessive. As Matthew grows closer to Théo and Isabelle, he is included in their strange games involving film, passionate debates and sex. As the stakes increase, Matthew begins to realize how dangerous their game has become.

The Dreamers is a film about films, a delightful indulgence for cinephiles. Clips from famous moments in film history are sandwiched between scenes of sensuality and eroticism, punctuating the film’s narrative and progressing the storyline.

The characters play to this fascination; re-enacting their favourite scenes, usually with some perverse twist. The film caters to the most voyeuristic of viewing pleasure; the audience is made to feel as though they are privy to some secret, private moments, never meant to be public.

The taboo content of the film can cause uneasiness, but it’s the power of the depiction of sexuality and sensuality that speaks to the complexity of the film’s impact. This has been called, “a charged sensory experience- a cinematic turn-on,” “a real pleasure” and “a provocative, sensual feast.”

Most reviews focus on the depiction of sexuality, a recurrent theme in the film, but others still look past the visceral pleasures of the film to get to the point: Terry Lawson said, “… it effectively explains why we obsess over movies and rock and roll and honest communication long after those passions have been hijacked by parodists and advertising agencies.”

And Mick LaSalle called it, “… an ambitious and exciting piece of work, a movie about sex and movies made by a filmmaker who understands the power of each to set off fantasy, create addiction, incite danger and transform the spirit.”

Set against the backdrop of the May 1968 protests in Paris, the film offers a unique and rather unflattering depiction of some of the Parisian youth active in the protests.

Involved in their community, in cinema and in protests and at the university, these young people are representative of the youth of their generation. However, living comfortably with wealthy parents, they are active politically when it suits their own agenda, often flittering from one cause to another without ever effectively engaging.

Their activism is a charade, meant to contribute to an image; that of the concerned, political and intellectual French youth. Convinced they are acting as voices for their generation, they instead turn inward and place focus on themselves exclusively.

This obsessive, narcissistic behaviour fuels their hedonistic lifestyle and serves to further isolate them from the city, their peers and their community.

We will be screening The Dreamers on Feb. 24 at 8p.m. at Artspace and as always, this screening is 100 per cent free.

You can find an event page on Facebook for more information. Please note, due to the graphic content of this film including nudity, graphic images of sexuality and substance abuse, we would like to issue a trigger warning to anyone who may find this content upsetting. Stay tuned, as up next, we will be showing another French cinema classic, Cléo de 5 à 7.

The next day, on Feb. 25 at Market Hall, we are helping to present Bruce LaBruce’s film Gerontophilia (2013), with the director in attendance. Finally, we are very excited about our upcoming short film festival, Snowdance, held at Market Hall on March 16. To learn more, or to submit your film, check out our Facebook page for more information.