Sweet Dreams Screen 8 articles

Sweet Dreams

2016

Sweet Dreams Poster
  • The film’s most frustrating aspect is that the viewers are way ahead of Massimo in figuring out what really happened to his mother. Clearly, mystery per se is not the real crux of the story – it’s more about the psychological processes that continue to blind Massimo to the truth. But it’s increasingly hard to care about his woes, given the one-note lugubriousness with which Mastrandrea plays him as an adult.

  • It feels like three or four completely different movies, but each has its merits; the main problem is that Bérénice Bejo, who shows up late in the going as the protagonist’s lover, makes the lead actor look even less charismatic by comparison.

  • Bellocchio’s conventional biopic Fai bei sogni (Sweet Dreams) relays the memoirs of a sports reporter who spends his life coping with the suicide of his mother when he was a young boy (to make matters even more grim for the journalist, he is also a Torino fan).

  • Master filmmaker Marco Bellocchio follows up his sublime and mysterious Blood of My Blood (2015) with a handsome and shamelessly cloying picture that represents the most logical culmination of this career-long fixation—that is, he’s made a film that spends all of its 131 minutes celebrating and yearning for the euphoria of being with one’s own mother.

  • While the sentimentality inherent in the source material will not be for all tastes, I would gladly trade most of the movies I’ve seen in the 2010s for one sequence, a blast of pure cinema, in which the adult Massimo cuts loose on a dance floor to the tune of the Trashmen’s immortal “Surfin’ Bird.” Not a masterwork, perhaps, but certainly the work of a master.

  • Bellocchio’s sprawling, virtuosic drama takes the form of flashbacks of an older Massimo who has now surpassed his mother's age at the time of her death, a subjectivity simultaneously sentimental and subtly satiric. Sweet Dreams in fact most resembles the kind of have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too filmmaking of Paul Verhoeven, whose films from RoboCop to Showgirls critique the kinds of movies they are thrillingly embodying but never betray their origins nor the pleasures or pitfalls of their genres.

  • Attuned, as always, to personal and social pathology, Bellocchio captures the abandonment any child feels when his mother leaves inexplicably, forcing him to conclude that he was at fault. But the director adds an astute touch in the final sequence—and especially the final shot—that has even greater impact than the novel, brilliantly fusing the love and terror of a child’s dependency on a disturbed mother while empathically telegraphing the mother’s despair.

  • The polite dismissals and general indifference shown by critics toward this masterpiece by Bellocchio stun me. Is this ‘mother and child’ melodrama just too sentimental for them all? But it’s a brilliant move on Bellocchio’s part to marry his long-nurtured psychoanalytic themes, and his frequently surreal sense of lived experience, to this pained, deeply moving story. Bellocchio has lost not an iota of his skill, or his artistry.

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