Imagine floating out the office window and over a magnificent city. You effortlessly glide over tall buildings, monorails and elaborate parks, all made of cardboard! Even the dogs are made up of this substance. This image depicts only one of the many dreams Stephane Miroux encounters in the new film The Science of Sleep.
If you have ever wondered where fiction ends and reality begins, then this is the movie for you. The Science of Sleep is the bizarre journey of one man as he makes his way through cardboard and cellophane, in search of love.
This independent film combines many cinematic genres to create a compelling narrative. It is a dramatic fantasy that follows Stephane, an eccentric young artist played by Gael Garcia Bernal (Amores Perros, The Motorcyle Diaries), who tries to win the heart of his neighbour, Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg of 21Grams).
Unsatisfied with his life, Stephane looks to his dreams in order to live out his passions. Not being able to find reciprocated love in the real world weighs down on Stephane, so he goes on a journey through his dreams, searching for answers.
The Science of Sleep is, visually, a beautiful film. Directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), this film is immersed in an earthy and gritty visual style.
The special effects create a world that is truly unique and drives this cinematic experience. When asked about the movie’s creative style, Gondry said, “I’m aware that sometimes people can be really amazed by the precision of the technology, but on the other hand, I like it to be na’ve, handmade and crafted.”
The film is mostly in English, but there are parts in both French and Spanish (with English subtitles). It seems appropriate that this film incorporates three languages because it exemplifies the diversity of The Science of Sleep.
This theme can also be found in the visual techniques Gondry uses. The director employs many creative modes to transmit the visual narrative to the audience.
Gondry incorporates clay-mation, blue screen technology, stop-motion animation and standard filming. Some scenes employ all these techniques simultaneously. All these elements combined give the movie a layered texture, upon which the story unfolds.
The main characters in this film are very well developed and the dialogue flows quite naturally. Stephane’s office buddy, played by Alain Chabat, provides many comedic moments, and gives the viewer a stable point of reference in this surrealistic adventure.
The other central characters are so bizarre that mundane conversations revolving around relationships and the workplace turn out to be unexpectedly refreshing.
The main character exhibits a certain irrationality of motive and action. Viewers could find his behaviour confusing because the script offers no context for his lapses of rationality.
However, the visual experience more than compensates for this contextual gap.
Overall, Michel Gondry’s style is a welcome change from the Hollywood approach to filmmaking. The film was very entertaining, and I would definitely recommend seeing it.