Green Room Orlando :: Film and Television in Central Florida     jump to ->   New York - Miami - Tampa Bay
Logo/Front Page Link  
Logo/Front Page
<< Back

The Science of Sleep   (released 10/2/2006)
By Neil Norman

      Dreams have always been an integral part of film. They have been represented cinematically so often that the "dream sequence" has become a bit of a cliché. This hasn't affected my enjoyment of films about dreams. I have always been keenly interested in films that depict the actual world of dreams on celluloid. Watching such popcorn genre classics as Dreamscape and Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors as a child really gave me a taste for Dream films. Recently, more intellectually stimulating fare such as Waking Life and Mirrormask has fed my need to be able to see dreams.

      Michel Gondry's new film, The Science of Sleep (La Science des rêves) is a breathtaking cornucopia of visual images and a pretty good love story to boot. The story follows Stephane, played by a rakish yet soulful Gael García Bernal, in his quest to land a job using his artistic talents and possibly a girlfriend. Stephane has returned to Paris from Mexico where we guess that he had come a little too close to the starving aspect of the Starving Artist's life. Mom hooks him up with a job at a promotional calendar company, and he strolls in on the first day, portfolio under arm, with visions of Grand Designs and his proverbial big break. His peckish boss looks over his illustrations and is nonplussed, relegating Stephane to a decidedly inartistic cut and paste production gig. Stephane then meets his co-workers, a certifiable peanut gallery of freaks, who give him lessons in towing the company line. Outside of work, Stephane stumbles into a friendship with a pair of girls across the hall. Initially attracted to the hotter (and less interested) friend, he comes around and falls for the mousy Stephanie, played by Charlotte Gainesbourg. Stephanie loves to make gadgets and crafts out of household materials. The two artists become entangled in a relationship that blossoms out of their common creativity. Many love triangles and ironic situations follow, until Stephane finally realizes that he is madly in love with Stephanie. But is he too late?

      The Science of Sleep is a very densely layered film that comes pretty close to accurately representing the chaotic and whimsical nature of dreams. The look of the film is fantastic, using animation and whimsical Production Design to make the dream world seem even more real than Reality. We can tell that Stephane is more comfortable in his dream world. But the question is will he be able to transport that magic into his normal life?

      Gondry uses many motifs to help liken his film to the Dream state. One of the most fascinating to me is that the film's dialogue is in three different languages. It switches from French to English to Spanish with almost no rhyme or reason, but we still seem to understand. The world of the film changes rapidly and goes in random directions at times, which is exactly what happens when we dream. Another technique I liked is when Stephane breaks the Fourth Wall and addresses the audience from his dreams. In his Dreams, Stephane is the host of a Late Night style talk show, complete with a totally dressed set and a camera fabricated out of card board. We see scenes from his life on the video screens of his mind as we literally get into the character's head. This platform enables Stephane to impart some of his (and Gondry's) philosophy on dreaming, living, and loving.

      This film might not be for everybody, as it is very flashy, vibrant, and deep both in visual imagery and philosophical content. But if you are an Artist, a Cineaste, an appreciator of animation and eyeball-popping imagery, or simply just a Dreamer, then this film is for you. Prepare to be richly rewarded for watching the best "Art" film of the year.

Neil Norman is a freelance writer and a graduate of the University of Central Florida. Neil also works on independent film productions.

  Advertising    Legal     Site Index  
© 2021 Green Room Orlando. Founded in 1998.