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Dreams of a Life Reviews

Page 1 of 5
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

April 2, 2012
One of the most haunting films I've ever seen. A lot of relationship, community and social issues are raised here as peoples emotions, reactions and memories are all laid bare. The reconstruction of the clearing out of the flat, littered with memories is very effective amid recreations of Joyce Vincent singing as a child and wrapping Christmas gifts the night before she died. The interviews of Joyce Vincent's friends are quite telling of the sort of person she was, all of them speak about her in a positive light but it is her ex-boyfriend Martin who is the most compelling - a really nice guy full of frustration, guilt and sadness that makes for one of the saddest endings to film ever. Powerful and emotional but never dwelling on how she died but very much telling a story of who the person was and why she shouldn't have died, which is a much better way of being remembered and is a life lesson for all of us. A must see.
LorenzoVonMatterhorn
LorenzoVonMatterhorn

Super Reviewer

March 31, 2012
"Would anyone miss you?"

A filmmaker sets out to discover the life of Joyce Vincent, who died in her bedsit in North London in 2003. Her body wasn't discovered for three years, and newspaper reports offered few details of her life - not even a photograph.

REVIEW
I remember learning about the discovery of Joyce Vincent's body a few years ago and thinking what a sad and disturbing news story it was, almost beggaring belief in present day civilised society. This superbly and sensitively crafted drama documentary from Carol Morley answers a mere handful of the many questions which inevitably followed while inevitably producing a myriad of others. It is a salutary reminder that life is both precious and mysterious, things are often not what they seem and how we all think we know our friends but in reality our comprehension is limited to what we are actually permitted to see and understand.

The most refreshing and at the same time most disturbing impression given is that Joyce's friends appear to be genuine, caring people but despite this, she still slipped through the emotional and physical net which binds humanity together. The power of this film makes the loss almost as tangible to the audience as it must have felt to Martin. It reminds us that although time is often regarded as a great unhurried and invisible healer, it can also be corrosively destructive.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

July 6, 2014
"Dreams of a Life" is an artfully made and haunting documentary about Joyce Vincent whose body was found in her London bedsit(if Wikipedia is to be believed, it's the English equivalent of an SRO) three years after she died, and only because she was about to be evicted for non-payment of rent. While her remains were only idenitifiable through dental records and so badly gone no cause of death could possibly be found, it is the sort of case that is a pipe dream for tabloid reporters. At the same time, the local MP wants answers and filmmaker Carol Morley puts ads in the newspapers to get in touch with former friends and loved ones.(Joyce's older sisters refused to particpate out of privacy for the family.) Through interviews, Morley fills in the gaps of Joyce's timeline, along with faint glimpses of Joyce herself, through a snippet of her voice and a stunning final image.

Joyce's death comes as something of a surprise considering she was only 38.(For the record, her mother was 41 when she died.) But with all the information given and theories floated, the one I don't recall having been given is the possibility that she might have been using drugs. Not to stereotype any more than absolutely necessary, but Joyce tried to get into the music business where musicians have been known to on occasion use drugs. This also might explain her fall from grace and frequent job changes which she tried to hide from her friends with her carefree manner.
Eric B

Super Reviewer

January 6, 2014
A terrible documentary, loaded with tacky recreations and lasting three times too long for the paltry amount of material available about the main issue (a woman who mysteriously died and went undiscovered in her apartment for three years). Instead of forensics, we're forced to sit through interview after interview establishing that the deceased woman was beautiful and was "fancied" by many suitors. Great. Thrilling. Too bad there wasn't time for even one legitimate photograph of the death site.
March 18, 2013
It's hard to rate this one.. I felt like a lot was missing, but, the truth is, there was very little that was known. They spoke to people who had known her, all of whom seemed to have been told different things about where she was going. The people that she was spending time with, were never identified. It is disappointing that the family wanted nothing to do with anything.. (not just the documentary, but with the press in general when it happened.)

right now, I feel that this very easily could happen to me. I go long stretches of time without really spending time with anyone.. If I were not working, and had a place of my own to live.. no one would think twice if they didn't hear from me. I am not sure it would hold out for 3 years.. but, it is no completely impossible.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

July 6, 2014
"Dreams of a Life" is an artfully made and haunting documentary about Joyce Vincent whose body was found in her London bedsit(if Wikipedia is to be believed, it's the English equivalent of an SRO) three years after she died, and only because she was about to be evicted for non-payment of rent. While her remains were only idenitifiable through dental records and so badly gone no cause of death could possibly be found, it is the sort of case that is a pipe dream for tabloid reporters. At the same time, the local MP wants answers and filmmaker Carol Morley puts ads in the newspapers to get in touch with former friends and loved ones.(Joyce's older sisters refused to particpate out of privacy for the family.) Through interviews, Morley fills in the gaps of Joyce's timeline, along with faint glimpses of Joyce herself, through a snippet of her voice and a stunning final image.

Joyce's death comes as something of a surprise considering she was only 38.(For the record, her mother was 41 when she died.) But with all the information given and theories floated, the one I don't recall having been given is the possibility that she might have been using drugs. Not to stereotype any more than absolutely necessary, but Joyce tried to get into the music business where musicians have been known to on occasion use drugs. This also might explain her fall from grace and frequent job changes which she tried to hide from her friends with her carefree manner.
January 17, 2014
"Would anyone miss you?"

I remember reading about the discovery of a 38 year old woman who had been dead for 3 years in a tiny bedsit - with the TV still on. The documentary describes and shows photos of a very beautiful, vivacious woman with friends and ex-boyfriends (one of them describing her as the love of his life) and yet her elusiveness and periods of where she would just be gone for a while allowed her to disappear from their lives with only a question here and there of I wonder what Joyce is doing.
Eric B

Super Reviewer

January 6, 2014
A terrible documentary, loaded with tacky recreations and lasting three times too long for the paltry amount of material available about the main issue (a woman who mysteriously died and went undiscovered in her apartment for three years). Instead of forensics, we're forced to sit through interview after interview establishing that the deceased woman was beautiful and was "fancied" by many suitors. Great. Thrilling. Too bad there wasn't time for even one legitimate photograph of the death site.
August 11, 2013
the story is crazy interesting -- i really have a hard time believing it, actually. there's got to be more to it. how in the world does a 38 year old woman die in her apartment and no one finds her until 3 years later -- no one even questioned it. she had family, she had friends, she had lovers, she had a job (that she quit?) and bills to pay... how does no one look for her. they found her (her skeleton) sitting in front of the TV. the TV was on that whole entire time. she just decomposed into the carpet... the only way they could identify her was to compare her dental records to a photo they found of her on vacation. apparently the building developed a bug problem and smelled like decay, but no one questioned that either! is that not unbelievable?? anyways, as far as documentary/movie wise, i think it could have been done better; but like i've said before, the story is SO interesting that the documentary doesn't really even need to be anything spectacular.
May 24, 2013
It was a bit of an awkward start - I wanted to know more about what had happened and who these people are before I could really get into the story. Even so it does take hold eventually, and the story of how this woman removed herself from her friends and family and died alone really got under my skin. Ultimately, this is an incredibly moving documentary, and one that I think will stay with me for a long time. The ending is particularly sad, and quiet difficult to watch - even to recall.
March 31, 2013
Very sad, but thought provoking too. I love the non-sensationalized presentation - no tacky reconstructions and wild speculations - it's not as important how she died - but how she lived and why someone can drop of the radar and not be missed. Sobering.
February 21, 2013
What happened to Joyce Vincent?
February 3, 2013
A great subject of choice for a documentary that doesn't give the subject matter the detail it deserves and leaves far too much to speculation. Did they not try to get in contact with her sisters or the abuse shelter? Using a substantial amount of the run time to re-enact possible scenes of her life rather than actually research her background just comes off as lazy. It's thought-provoking and moving to a degree but not the film it should have been.
February 13, 2013
Heartbreaking true story of a lonely life.
January 29, 2013
I enjoy documentaries and watch quite a few of them. I would rate the Thin Blue Line as the best I have ever seen, and this doc is the best one I have seen since the Thin Blue Line. It is a compelling human story told in a similar way, a subtle approach through interviews, music and dramatization. You are invited to ponder and draw your own conclusions, you are not being persuaded to adopt some preconceived message. If you are like me, don't be put off by the negative reviews here. This film is a must see. If your idea of a good documentary is Super Size Me, then this might not be your cup of tea. There is beauty here in the unanswered mysteries, piecing together what can be known about this woman. She exhibits common frailties which lead to her isolation. Anyone with some introspection can see a reflection of oneself in her character. It is easy identify with her loneliness and her imperfections. She is like anyone just trying to make it in the world, suffering disappointments, being let down and letting others down. And when she dies no one cares enough to check up on her for three years. It causes one to ponder a question central to the human condition: What is the meaning of life? This film is very thought provoking and worthwhile.
January 23, 2013
This could have been a fascinating film about isolation, loneliness, and urban anonymity. But it's not. Instead it's so narrowly focused that the creators had to drum up interest through poorly staged reenactments and interviews with the subject's "friends" who are as blinkered and insincere as the directors seem to be.
December 5, 2012
When Joyce Vincent died nobody noticed for three years. How can the life of one person go unnoticed? Carol Morley's engaging and yet troubling documentary does not offer any answers, but it does cause one to reconsider their own life. This is a powerful piece of work, seemingly limited by its lack of first hand material about Joyce (her family declined involvement) but transcends its limitations to become something truly interesting
August 12, 2012
To copy another reviewer, yeah, there's not enough "there" there. Subject matter itself is interesting, but why isn't one family member (she had 4 sisters) located or interviewed? And if they could not be found or would not participate (unlikely), that should have been addressed. Instead, flimsy reenactments try to fill in all the empty space in this poorly executed portrayal of a life that fell between the cracks.
Page 1 of 5
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