"Cinephile" -- it almost sounds dirty, doesn't it? Like "pedophile." A love for movies can take us to some pretty strange places, emotionally. Physically, we're just sitting there in the dark, the images bathing our faces in reflected light. But emotionally who knows where we might wind up? Hell, some of us have virtually grown up at the movies -- learned how to smoke a cigarette, kiss a girl, a guy.
Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers is for cinephiles, about cinephiles and by cinephiles. Set in Paris during the revolutionary spring of 1968, it introduces us to three young people who are so movie-mad they have trouble separating the real world from the reel world. And when the temple where they worship, the Cinémathèque Française, gets shut down, they hole up in an apartment to project their own fantasies.
Matthew (Michael Pitt) is that familiar character, an innocent abroad. As for Isabelle (Eva Green) and Theo (Louis Garrel), they're rather familiar, too -- sister and brother, perhaps twins, perhaps lovers, perhaps both. And so, while the streets outside erupt in riots and demonstrations, these three get down to the dirty business of baring their bodies and souls. It's Jules and Jim by way of Last Tango in Paris.
It's also a tad juvenile -- Spin the Bottle compared to Last Tango's Russian roulette. But I'm not about to pan a movie that tries to take sexual intimacy so seriously. As Matthew, Pitt literally and figuratively sticks it out there. And as the fleurs de mal, Green and Garrel give off a nice vampirish sheen. You don't have to be a cinephile to love this movie, but you may become one if it sinks its teeth into you.