Last night, I was privy to one of those ‘underground films’ that most ‘norms’ don’t really know about or ‘appreciate’. You know the type I mean, incredibly arty, metaphorical stuff that initially gives off the heady aroma of pretention. Oh and nudity; never forget nudity! As I searched for meaning among the mess, I came to the conclusion that this wasn’t such a revelatory film after all.
It’s a film by old people for old people starring young people. The director is one Bernado Bertolucci, a stalwart of the industry who directed Last Tango in Paris and The Last Emperor to his credit. The film seems to assume a lot about its audience, specifically:
- that they are aware of the many protests happening about what I deem to be ‘stuff’ in 1968 (I wasn’t);
- that hippies at the time tried to protest with sex and drugs and things that, on the whole, don’t really help anyone (I sort of knew this);
- that the audience themselves longed for this kind of free sex ideology (a much more complicated issue than I can explain between two parentheses).
The film casts us back to Paris, 1968 where the young American Matthew (Michael Pitt) discovers the twins Isabelle (Eva Green) and Theo (Louis Garrel) who invite him to stay with them. He discovers that they lead a very lackadaisical Bohemian lifestyle, for example, having no inhibitions about being nude in front of each other. The twins eventually accept him as ‘one of us’ – taking a quote from Freaks – and then they just seem to hang out. Matthew starts bonking Isabelle, as you’d expect, and Theo doesn’t seem too happy about this. When Theo bonks another girl, Isabelle and her gorgeous bosoms doesn’t like it either. Of course, this is displayed in an aesthetically pleasing yet morally ambiguous style, but to me it doesn’t carry much weight. To make reference to the title, it’s clear that the three of them are ‘dreaming’; they are woken up from their ‘dream world’ of sex and decadence when a brick is thrown through their window alerting them to the presence of a revolution going on outside. Though the two men had ideals of zero violence, Theo joins in the fray anyway because… I dunno, ’cause he wants to I suppose.
It’s weird, because I don’t think the three of them seem to care about politics at all. They pretend to do so, but actually spend their whole day wrapped up in each other in their apartment being hippies. The twins lead a hedonistic lifestyle, but it’s all a sham; deep inside they realise that this is socially unacceptable behaviour. While Matthew is shy at first, he eventually becomes more of a hippy than either of them.
Why? Why are they doing this? To me it simply seems that they are trying to show off to each other that they are more pretentious and free-spirited than one-another which is hardly a desirable aspect of a person. In my mind, acting in this fashion may have been trendy in the late 60s but seems nonsensical now. Though having sex with Vesper Lynd and her giant areolas from Casino Royale seems desirable, most men understand that making love to a girl in front of her twin brother is just a little wrong. The reasons are too numerous to explain. Yet Matthew simply caves in to desire. Bertolucci seeks to explain that this kind of behaviour doesn’t get anybody anywhere. Umm, duh!
This is why I think it’s a film aimed at old people. People who lived through this era when free sex seemed like a great idea. Unfortunately, it focuses too much on the positive aspects of having contact time with those pendulous bosoms, and not on the sane reasons for why most people don’t behave in such a fashion. It’s a reminder to hippies of days gone by why it would never have worked after all, but it means nothing in today’s society where people, on the whole, don’t just have sex when they feel like it. The lessons this film teach us are too obvious, and the characters that teach us are exactly the opposite of contemporary. However, Eva Green is pretty hot when she’s naked, which is more than enough reason to go and see this film.