The Dreamers (2003)

Character: Isabelle
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Co-Stars: Michael Pitt, Louis Garrel
Summary: Based on a 1988 novel by Gilbert Adair.

Left alone in Paris whilst their parents are on holiday, Isabelle (Eva Green) and her twin brother Theo (Louis Garrel) invite Matthew (Michael Pitt), a young American student who share their love of cinema, to stay at their apartment. Their obsession with films is used to create their own world of role-playing, and increasingly demanding mind games, cut off from the rowdy Parisian streets and the growning anger of the crowds.

Set against the turbulent political backdrop of the Paris riots in the spring of 1968 when the voice of youth was reverberating around Europe, The Dreamers is a story of self-discovery as the three students test each other to see just how far they will go.

Adair writes of the film: “It is about the spring: the springtime of Paris, the springtime of its political awakening and the springtime of their bodies. What happens inside the apartment seems to reflect, in a certain way, what is happening outside.”

Bertolucci, who was in Paris during that frenetic spring, is even more carried away by the memory of it. “There was something quite magic in the 1960s,” he says. “We were dreaming. We were fusing cinema, politics, jazz, rock’n’roll, sex, philosophy and dope. I was devouring it all. There was hope in young people that you had never seen before, and never will again. The attempt to dive into the future, and freedom, was fantastic. It is the last time something happened that was so idealistic and so utopian.”

The premise of the movie in Eva’s words: “It’s about a twin sister and brother who have a passionate, almost incestuous relationship. They meet an American student and become friends with him. The three of them start playing mind games involving sexual forfeits, based on the movies. They try to reach beyond the limits, to see how far they can go. They experiment with their emotions, their sexuality. It is very Bertolucci.”

Isabelle, according to Eva: “At first she’s showing off how controlled and confident she is. By the end she’s more like herself. I think she takes refuge behind all those characters because… it’s very difficult to explain the character, because I feel very close to her in some ways. In life I can keep a certain distance from people I’m rather reserved, and people might think that I’m very haughty and impassive, cold. But it’s just a mask of protection. And when she makes love with Matthew, she becomes an adult, in some way. She lets reality come into her… Theo and Isabelle, they don’t want to face the fact that they have to free themselves from each other – and they know that their ambiguous relationship cannot last forever and by remaining in childhood, they’re only “playing games”, they’re still protected.”