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.