Partner. 1968. Italy. Written and directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. With Pierre Clémenti, Stefania Sandrelli, Tina Aumont. Score by Ennio Morricone. 35mm. In Italian; English subtitles. 112 min. Courtesy Luce Cinecittà. 112 min.
Pierre Clémenti’s filmic world was full of doubles and fiery contradictions from the time that Luchino Visconti christened him a thug with a prince’s hands during casting for The Leopard. In Partner, Bernardo Bertolucci’s elliptical third feature, Clémenti delivers a pair of electrifying performance as an unassuming drama teacher and his hard-hearted anarchist doppelgänger, whose misadventures unfold against the backdrop of the 1960s student movement. Loosely adapted from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Double, Partner more self-consciously feels indebted to Jean-Luc Godard in its theatrical confrontation between spectacle and revolution. Elusive within Bertolucci’s filmography, and dashed with surrealist touches, the film was described by Vincent Canby as the work of a “director who talks like an intellectual but makes movies like a poet…. Partner must be one of the most romantic political tracts ever conceived.”