It is nearly impossible to discuss this film without referencing Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Dreamers" as they both take place during the students revolt in Paris back in 1968. "Regular Lovers," while not nearly as good, does have a lot going for it, most of all credibility and teeth. Filmed in black and white the cinematic gloss found of "The Dreamers" has been stripped off to reveal a period of anxiety and fear along with hope and love. This is certainly not a tale of rich kids prancing around Daddy's penthouse while reality transpires outside their bubble. These kids take their fight seriously. Cars are torched, cops are hated, and murder by Molotov Cocktail is always within arms reach. But more than that director Philippe Garrel wants you to think about what comes after revolution as it never lasts forever. According to him you can either sell out and join the middle class or you can die. And at least if you die you can be considered just.
The early part of the film does focus on the day to day of fighting a violent battle for change. The main point of contention seems to be a government that tries to coerce its young people into military service and throw those in jail who do not fall in line and become killers. Garrel is on the right side but his portrayal of both sides is a little. . .well. . .black and white. The police are fascists and the revolutionaries are pacifist poets. As the story moves along though these two icons begin to bleed into one another. And as the youthful flames of anger cool with age suddenly the poet and the fascist find themselves having a conversation about art. Kids, who earlier in the movie would never again talk to a person who had been smeared with the tag "a bourgeois," would begin taking on responsibilities that looked quite bourgeois. Romance, perhaps the ultimate bourgeois indulgence, is what is most to blame for the end of the revolution here. And I guess the real question remains: Was it all inevitable? They are started off with the most noble of intentions, but eventually human nature takes over. Free love morphs into ownership, not liking work morphs into not liking starvation.
If all these new urges blindside our characters (who I could never connect to) they can hardly be blamed for not trying. They wanted to feel good so if they had to do drugs or have sex or overthrow a government to do so then oh well. Far better that than those religious zealots who work so hard just to deprive people from feeling good. The film as a whole was not that good though. Way overlong at three hours it kept my attention for maybe two. But subtract the plethora of scenes that involved nothing more than opium smoking and you might have a winner on your hands. And don't think Gerrel didn't have "The Dreamers" on his mind when he made this. Throughout the film there are only two lines that are spoken with the character looking directly into the camera. The first, "Bernardo Bertolucci." So he called out a master and lost a duel, can't blame a guy fro trying. **1/4