Friday, November 9, 2007

When dreams are better than reality why wake up? (Film - The Science of Sleep)




It's about the experience of feeling one will not succeed somehow - at work, in love, in being responsible - and resorting to fantasy for escape. Stephane creates such alluring fantasies, his imagination is so prolific, that all of his expertise is developed in that arena. He has no skills for most experiences in ordinary life and experiences the inability of reality to be like his fantasy as a rejection. That is the ultimate trajedy of The Science of Sleep, an utterly magnificent film, written and directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). It features Charlotte Gainsbourg and Gael Garcia Bernal. Bernal, the hunky Latino actor who played Che Guevara in Motorcycle Diaries and the troublesome nephew of the housekeeper in Babel would seem an unlikely choice for a character suffering from pathological shyness, but his performance is flawless - gliding seamlessly from fantasy-world television host to a boy-man nearly paralyzed by insecurity. He doesn't put a foot wrong.

I love Gondry's work because he likes messy art. Most of his special effects are low-tech. He animated this film himself with whole cities built out of toiletpaper rolls (for instance) on his vacation with friends helping him and his aunt cooking them meals. This happened months before shooting with the actors began so that he could project the completed footage of this fantasy realm onto screen for the actors to play off of. He understands the advantage of actors having real things to react to. Despite the fact that he built his idea for this film over more than five years, he also trusts the accident of improvisation to mix with his careful plans to create something that will tell a story about human being instead of characters. He says that he depends upon "chaos." Human beings are messy and that's why Gondry's art, along with that of his great cast and designers, reveals their inner life with such accuracy and tenderness. I can't think of a better film I have seen for several years. Utterly beautiful. I think I'll watch it again before it has to go back to the library.

4 comments:

CHarliew8811 said...

I saw the movie in the middle of the night thinking it was just some very weird movie. I had to watch it the second time to really like it. I love it now and i think gael garcia benal is amazing in this film. Funny, cute...just amazing...

Dewey said...

This film left me very, very confused. I felt, after watching it, that it needed at least a second viewing, but I haven't given it that yet.

Ted said...

Dewey - It is definitely not a simple film! It plays with reality and is purposely ambiguous and tricky and probably not everyone's cup of tea. However, I find it incredibly touching and feel its ambiguity tries to draw the viewer into a certain state of mind that is both evocative of the central character's experience of the world and sympathetic toward him, rather than merely pitying.

Ted said...

Dewey I'm just realizing (ew) what that might sound like. I am not implying that you are not an astute analyzer of plots and characters and that I am somehow smarter - far from it, I always find your appreciations sophisticated and I learn from them. Just offer that take by way of further explaining my own enjoyment of the film despite that ambiguity.