Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Science of Sleep

No sooner was I lamenting the lack of good movies out there, appears this refreshing flick on DVD. The Science of Sleep picks up the pieces of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind and injects it with plenty of colour and creativity. Both these Michel Gondry movies stick a camera into a character's head but whereas Eternal Sunshine.. jumped into a character's past memories, The Science of Sleep is concerned with the present and dreamy thoughts which pass through a human brain. The end result is a highly original film that is riveting to watch. Even though I can't say that I enjoyed every frame of the movie, I could not take my eyes away from it. And in some cases, I had to go back and rewatch a sequence again.

The story revolves around Stéphane (Gael García Bernal). We get to see both his dull everyday real world and his colorful inner world, sometimes at the same time. Stéphane is an inventor and a highly creative person. His thoughts are far more imaginative than the mundane things he has to put up with in his daily life. Safe to say, he prefers his inner world. But when he falls for his neighbour Stéphanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg), things get complicated. At first, Stéphanie finds Stéphane interesting but when she is not interested in a serious relationship, a rift occurs within Stéphane and he drifts towards the inner safe haven of his mind. Open Your Eyes (remade as Vanilla Sky) and Hubert Selby Jr's wonderful novel Requiem for a Dream (also a film by Darren Aronofsky) explored similar ideas of people finding solace in their dreams but with different shades of darkness. Open Your Eyes was not entirely dark but Requiem for a dream was situated completely in the deep end and showed what happens when a person loses touch with reality and exists only in a constant dreaming state. The Science of Sleep tackles this completely differently, existing in a child-like innocent state between happiness and darkness. One truly feels sorry for Stéphane as his world starts to crumble around him and we can only hope that he can save himself.

(2006, Director Michel Gondry): Rating -- a very strong 8/10

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