Note: This is listed here as the R rated, and not the NC-17 rated version. If that's the case, see if you can find another way to see it. Sexuality is at the core of the film on both a dramatic and thematic level, and while the cuts aren't huge, you are getting a slightly adulterated version, with the punches a bit pulled.
Notes on the film:
Once again, Bertolucci explores his favorite themes of politics, the nature of individuality vs. belonging and transgressive sex.
In 1968 Paris, as the protests that began around cinema threaten to expand and bring down the government, an odd manage-a-trios develops between a young American and a twin brother and sister, whose relationship is full of borderline incest. The three form a tight circle and almost forget the world outside while dunk on booze, sexuality,and each other. But by the end, the maelstrom outside is too powerful to simply be ignored.
This is a very good film, but for me, not quite a great one. The depths of these characters aren't explored the way Bertolucci does in, say `The Conformist', and there are even some places where it feels like he pulls his punches (not a director one thinks of doing so.) But the homosexual attraction between the brother and the American is reduced to an occasional ambiguous smoldering glance. That aspect, among others, was far
more explicit in the novel.
None-the-less, the film is beautifully made (some terrific editing that inserts images from other films that relate to and comment on the story), and the acting is solid and bold. While the sex itself isn't that much more explicit than in many R rated films, the amount of relaxed nudity is, and that meant these young actors had to really throw off their inhibitions to make many scenes work.