The Science of Sleep (2006, Michel Gondry)

Stephane (Gael Garcia Bernal) is tricked by his mom into coming to Paris from Mexico to work at a calendar company, moves in next door to Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Job turns out to suck, not that he shows up for it very often, and after briefly falling for her friend, Stephane gets a thing for Stephanie. Unfortunately he lives completely in his dream world and can’t communicate with regular people, eventually has to give up on job and girl and go home.

Gondry isn’t trying to tell us that he is Stephane, since Gondry has a successful career and at least two kids, although both Gondry and Stephane make creative things out of paper and film, and both sometimes get big hands when they sleep. Just saying that dreams are great but it’s important to have a grip.

Stephane isn’t much of a romantic lead. Sometimes he screws up in an endearing way, but sometimes in a creepy, maladjusted, antisocial way. He’s determined when it comes to getting the girl or making crafts, not about holding down a job.

Movie is worth seeing of course because it’s the closest thing to a Gondry music video (mostly minus the music, though I heard a Jack White band in one scene) and that’s just what I’ve been clamoring for. Got what I deserved, and I’m loving it, though I feel the loss of writer Charlie Kaufman. Wonderful: the dreams, the one-second time-travel machine, Stephane’s co-worker, the music he composes using only the broken keys on Stephanie’s piano, the homemade feel to everything.

What did everyone else say?

Robert Keser in Bright Lights After Dark: “it charts Stéphane’s hilariously tortuous passage from awkward man-boy to still awkward man”. But does he become a man? His father dies (an important step towards manhood in the movies) but he’s still running away at the end. Or maybe these experiences in Paris will make him better understand himself in Mexico (we know nothing of his life there). Not putting Keser down: his is the best and most thoughtful review so far.

Ed Gonzalez in Slant Magazine: “Gondry, like David Lynch, makes art from the many-spindled arcs of our dreams and fantasies, but Lynch hasn’t gone so far as to suggest that our dreams are works of art themselves, our imagination a gallery of unfinished, haunted frescos. To submit to Science of Sleep becomes something strangely akin to acknowledging that our dreams make more sense than our waking life.”

Paul: “I did not like the ending much though, as both characters seemed too petulant. he kept saying desperate inappropriate things then went into her bed w/o permission.. made me uncomfy.”

Related posts