Rainer's Review of The Science of Sleep
The Science of Sleep(2006)
I watched this film yesterday evening, but felt like I needed some time to analyse it a bit. I'm still not sure if I grasped all the subtones and weirdness but at least I feel like I'm able to write a little bit about it.
When I'm not sure how to start my reviews I usually begin with the technical elements such as acting, cinematography, direction,...
The Science of Sleep has one particularly good performance. The one of Gael Garcia Bernal who is a totally overlooked (at least in the anglo-american world) box-office magnet and probably one of the best actors of his generation (I haven't seen many of his films, but what I've seen so far is jaw-dropping. I have merely seen such a young actor transforming and displaying different types of emotions in different genres).
He plays a Mexican designer/daydreamer who returns to France, to his French mother after the death of his father.
His French is not very good, thus most of the film's dialogue is in English (with some Spanish in between). What makes Stéphane (Bernal's character's name) so unique is his vivid imagination. His imagination affects his dreams which are also very vivid, and often, he just can't tell if he's in a dream or in real life.
Director Michel Gondry puts the audience in a similar situation. We just can't tell if the scene we're watching at the moment takes place in Stéphane's head or in real life.
This little gimmick, Gondry builds a film around. With wonderful stop-motion animation, amazing set designs and innocent surrealistic elements, Gondry adds just the right amount of craziness, you can find e.g. in a Gilliam film - just that with The Science of Sleep it's an uplifting, pleasant experience.
The Science of Sleep is an example of too much imagination and too little cohesion - I liked it though, exactly this way.
PS: I also found out that Gondry had a second colloboration with Charlie Kaufman before Eternal Sunshine (I'm very big on Kaufman, and actually thought I've seen everything he was involved with) which is called Human Nature, which I hope to see soon as well.