Sometimes it’s entirely possible to admire a film and the message it’s trying to put across, without actually liking that film at all. The Dreamers
, the latest attempt at controversy from director Bernardo Bertolucci, falls into this category. While its statement on the art of film and sexual independence has merit, it’s a bit of a dud as entertainment. And while the message it’s trying to convey might be a bold one, Bertolucci doesn’t succeed in delivering it in a concise and meaningful way. He parallels, rather pretentiously, the art and political rebellion by French students in Paris circa 1968 with the sexual rebellion of three young adults cooped up in an apartment, where they have controversial encounters, Bertolucci style. What is Bertolucci trying to do here? My guess is that the barrier-breaking, outrageous sexual behavior of the trio is symbolic of the rise against artistic censorship that took place in 1968, a battle that still rages today. The effect? The director, although admirable, has lost a little of his punch. His attempts to shock are gratuitous rather than effective. The first mainstream release since David Cronenberg’s lousy Crash
in ’96 to get the NC-17 rating.