I really don’t sleep deeply enough these days. Therefore my dreams become slightly overpowering ‘In dreams emotions can be overwhelming’, says Stephane in The Science of Sleep (2006). Michael Gondry’s films often have a dreamlike, poetic dimension, and this movie certainly has.
Although unlike Stephane, played by Gael Garcia Bernal, I know where my dreams and reality meets. The treatment of this subject matter did however strike a cord with me. The way in which strange manifestations of reality mix with the boundless possibilities of the dream, and how this is depicted, makes for a visually moving film. As a top class dreamer myself I found the film both plausible but yet still interestingly different.
The film in one sense is a basic love story. Stephane has just got a job, with the help of his mother, in a calendar printing company as an illustrator, working with some very odd people. He falls in love with one of his new female neighbours called Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg). At this point Stephane becomes unable to distinguish dream content from real life, and the viewer is also often left to decipher this. Freudian analysis and meaning takes over, and from the dreams, and his reactions to them we are able to understand his character a little better.
What makes this film anything but a ‘basic love story’ is however the expressive ideas it displays and thankfully its unresolved conclusion. My dreams are never resolved and neither is my life, which is one reason why this approach is refreshingly different, and honest.
In a movie, which visually is anything but ‘real’, it manages to convey to me a sense of our inner turmoil, even if in a rather extreme way.
It is often hard for me to deal with sleep as it can actually awaken senses and memories stored away deep in the recesses of the sub-conscious. What comes across in the film is how we are effected by not only important events, but frequently just how random much of our remembrances are. Those strange morning dreams we all have are a great example of this, and I am sure, like me, all those light sleepers out there can understand this aspect of the film, as I did.
And finally, reminiscent of Wayne Coyle, aka Mr Flaming Lips, I loved the absurdly giant hands, and definitely want a pair, which are not just in my dream.