Bernardo Bertolucci had the luck to be filming his one nouvelle vague piece of leftist political theater, using a band of socialist student activists, no less, just as thousands of socialist student activists were hatching the Paris riots of 1968. Talk about perfect timing! The film, which is like a genial cousin to one of Jean-Luc Godard’s didactic screeds, seems perfectly content to play loosely with threads of ideas about sanity, entitlement, politics, art and a nagging doppelgänger without adding up to much of anything. Though it’s equally possible that the pic’s charismatic star, Pierre Clementi at his most Mick Jaggarish, had little but gibberish to offer in the largely improvised script; he yells and repeats to diminishing effect. But Bertolucci, in a sort of adolescent fare-thee-well, displays such an embarrassment of visual pizzaz you hardly mind the barrage of dated sloganeering and jejune intellectualism.
NOTE: In an unusually absorbing Extra, Bertolucci goes into a few technical details. He bemoans the cut-rate Italian CinemaScope knockoff which is not an anamorphic process, but a bifuircated 35mm frame. And that may explain why he took the trouble, on the trick shots for Clementi & his double, to reach all the way back to the silent cinema days and precisely rewind the negative for all the double-exposures. Properly handled, this can still produce astoundingly believable alter-ego stuff, and the ones in PARTNER look great.