Sunday, April 8, 2007

La Science des Rêves

La Science des rêves, or the Science of Sleep, was a fantastic blend of whimsy and depression. It is very reminiscent of a Charlie Kaufman script (Being John Malkovitch, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), in that there is a fine line between what's real and what's not that is being continuously crossed. This should come as no surprise coming from writer/director Michele Gondry, who co-wrote and directed Eternal Sunshine. I say this a lot, but this movie cements him as a powerful force in film-making. He manages somehow to blend the charming and the heartbreaking.

The movie centers on Stéphane Miroux (Gael Garcia Bernal), as he moves in with his mother and starts a dead-end job at a calender design company. The movie flips back and forth between his daily life, and his dreams. Much of the movie is even narrated by himself- in his own head set up to resemble a television studio. His dreams are generally marked as clearly fantasy, but sometimes he gets them mixed up. This bleeds over into his waking life as he does things he is unaware of while sleeping, and frequently thinks he is sleeping when he is indeed awake.

Miroux is fascinating character. He is obviously very creative, but also has a hard time keeping his sense of reality. This makes it very difficult for him to relate to other people- resulting in conflicts with his co-workers, and a bizarre non-existent relationship with his neighbor, Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg). This is the truly sad part of the movie. They are clearly interested in each other, but Miroux throws it away at every turn, realizing his love only when he is asleep.

The movie is almost plays out as a tragic study of our own inhibitions. It plays our consciousness, and our desires as two conflicting forces. They fight each other at great pain to ourselves. Miroux is this conflict personified, and even explained through his narrated thoughts. Some amusing realizations are reached when he sleepwalks, and when he influences his dreams (listening to recordings, falling asleep with his feet in a fridge, etc). The dream sequences themselves are where Gondry really shines. They feature some fantastic stop motion animation as Miroux lives out his dreams.

The movie was obviously a little difficult to follow, accented by the characters switching between French, Italian, Spanish, and English. The pacing was also a little off. It started out a little slow, and took a while to build up momentum into a truly interesting story (instead of just an experimental curiosity). It also lost some momentum towards the end. I was not disappointed with how it ended, it just fizzled a little bit arriving at that conclusion. This is being really nit-picky, since I did not find much else wrong with it.

The Science of Sleep is an interesting movie on several levels. The story is genuinely powerful, and you feel for each of the characters, almost crying along with them. The fairly simple story is enhanced by the visuals. It was the animation that initially drew me to the movie, but in the end, it was the story that truly captivated me.


1 comment:

Shawn said...

How could you? Get past the cinematography my friend, view it in perspective. The story wasn't that great. Please rethink the five