The Dreamers is a 2003 drama film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. The screenplay is by Gilbert Adair, based on his own novel The Holy Innocents. The film was an international co-production by companies from France, the United Kingdom, and Italy. The Dreamers was controversial in the United States for its depiction of nudity and sexual content, which attracted an NC-17 rating. The primary language spoken in the film is English, though French and English are spoken interchangeably throughout.
The Dreamers tells the story of an American university student in Paris who, after meeting a peculiar brother and sister who are fellow film enthusiasts, becomes entangled in an erotic conflict. It is set against the backdrop of the 1968 Paris student riots. The film makes several references to various movies of classical and New Wave cinema, incorporating clips from films that are often imitated by the actors in particular scenes.
Matthew is a young American exchange student who has come to Paris in order to study French. Though he has lived there for several months and will stay in Paris for a year, he has made no friends. As a huge fan of film, he spends most of his time in the Cinémathèque Française. Eventually he forms a close friendship with a Frenchwoman, Isabelle, and her brother, Théo. All three are avid film lovers, especially fond of "the classics". As their friendship grows, Matthew learns of the extreme intimacy shared by the siblings (what one reviewer described as "incestuous in all but the most technical sense") and gets pulled into their world. Over time he falls in love with both of them, and the three seclude themselves from the world, falling further and further from the reality of the 1968 student rebellions. Eventually, however, their idyll is shattered and they are forced to face reality.