The Science of Sleep Movie Review

0
0
Subscribe to Gael Garcia Bernal alerts
How exactly could such as astoundingly well-crafted and adventurous vision like The Science of Sleep end up the throwaway curiosity that it is? To be sure, there's no lack of effort from writer/director Michel Gondry, ringleader of this particular reality-blurring carnival, who brings to bear all of his singular skills at drawing dreamscapes disturbingly close to the frame of our everyday lives. His well-directed cast fling themselves right into the mix, going at their roles with enthusiastic abandon. The story is a delightful fantasia about a young man (grown-up boy, really) whose dream-life flows over into his waking hours -- in which he's smitten with his friendly but romantically distant next-door neighbor -- a problem that he doesn't seem to even to consider a problem. But the film's wild images and sense of fun are fleeting at best, and start to leak away the second the credits begin to roll.

After scoring so perfectly with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and its follow-up, Dave Chappelle's Block Party, it was maybe inevitable that Gondry was going to slip up, and this film is that slip-up. Firstly, it's hard to shake the feeling that the scraps of story that leak out around the visuals are not much more than leftover ideas from Eternal Sunshine, further notes on the fantastic. As Stephane, the neurotic star of his own dream-TV show, Stephane TV, Gael García Bernal uses that slightly blank charisma of his to singular effect. Though Gondry takes awhile to lay his cards down on this character, leaving audiences not entirely sure whether to view Stephane as an innocent dreamer or immature creep, it's hard not to warm to Bernal's enthusiasm -- even he did put it to better use in The King.

Much screen time in The Science of Sleep is spent inside Stephane's dreaming mind, a joyously weird wonderland built from jerry-rigged materials, where cars are made of cardboard tubing and water built of cellophane -- it's as though the world had been recreated by a sixth-grade crafts class with a lot of time on its hands and a deep supply closet. Unlike most artists who attempt to capture the world of dreams by filling them with easily recognizable symbols and heavily symbolic storylines, Gondry is amazingly able to hold true to the illogic of dreams. Items from Stephane's waking life are scattered throughout the dreams, but never in a portentous manner, they're just raw material that help juice along his feverishly detailed scenarios.

The problems come when Stephane wakes, or at least seems to. Just moved back into his childhood Paris apartment -- his mom's the landlord -- Stephane develops a crush on the girl next door, Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg). She's a beanpole artist of similarly fanciful temperament who isn't quite able to reciprocate Stephane's childish and easily-crushed infatuation. Another strike against Stephane is his (and often the audience's) inability to figure out whether he's awake or dreaming, the lines between the two worlds having been erased by Gondry, bit by bit. The last third of the film deals almost entirely with Stephane and Stephanie's melodramatic relationship, skipping out unfortunately on the film's most enjoyable segments, when Stephane is surrounded by his bickering co-workers at his office job -- all of them, especially the wonderfully profane Alain Chabat, help keep the film from drifting off on its cloud of whimsy.

The Science of Sleep doesn't cohere too well in the end, being a free-flowing lollapalooza of realistic dreams and strange reality where the audience rarely knows where they stand, further undermined by Gondry's decision to have the cast speak in a mesh of French, Spanish, and English. This in itself wouldn't keep the film from succeeding, but Gondry seems to spend more time on the texture of Stephane's interior world than the vicissitudes of his actual existence, especially the fitful romance with Stephanie, which is resolved in a quite clumsy fashion. It makes one sad, however, because one thing is utterly clear after seeing this film, if there are any more Dr. Seuss or Maurice Sendak films in production without directors, Gondry is the first one they should call.

Aka La Science des rêves.

Better than turkey and warm milk.

Cast & Crew

Director :

Producer : Georges Bermann, Fredéric Junqua

0
0
Subscribe to Gael Garcia Bernal alerts

Comments

The Science of Sleep Rating

" Weak "

Rating: R, 2006

Advertisement

More Gael Garcia Bernal

Could Jon Stewart's 'Rosewater' Have a Shot at the Oscars?

Rosewater, Jon Stewart's directorial debut based on the best-selling memoir Then They Came For Me: A Family's Story of Love, Captivity and Survival by Maziar...

Rosewater Trailer

Maziar Bahari is an Iranian-Canadian journalist who embarked on a week long trip to Iran in 2009 in a bid to cover the story of...

Jon Stewart's 'Rosewater' Is Good, But Were We Expecting More?

Jon Stewart's directorial debut Rosewater premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on Friday (August 27, 2014) and the critics and bloggers were quick off the...

See The Trailer For Jon Stewart's Directorial Debut 'Rosewater'

American political satirist Jon Stewart has added another string to his bow: screenwriter and film director. His directorial debut Rosewater- which he also wrote and...

Advertisement

Who Is Dayani Cristal? Movie Review

Actor-producer Gael Garcia Bernal takes a strikingly complex look at the timely issue of human migration from Central America to the United States, which is...

The Most Undiscovered Movies On Netflix

Most films on the lower rungs of Netflix occupy that position for a single reason: they’re downright terrible. The acting is at best laughable and...

Cannes 2014: Sofia Coppola, Willem Dafoe and Gael Garcia Bernal Will Judge

The final panel for Cannes 2014 has been decided upon, with Sofia Coppola, Willem Dafoe and Gael Garcia Bernal amongst others joining Jane Campion who...

Matthew McConaughey Was Far From First Choice In 'Dallas Buyers Club' Casting [Trailer]

Matthew McConaughey may have pulled off the performance of his career in Dallas Buyers Club but the actor apparently had to convince the movie's directors...

Advertisement