Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Science of Sleep

Visionary director Michel Gondry's (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) The Science of Sleep tells the story of Stéphane (Gael García Bernal), a young man whose vivid dreams and imagination often interfere with his ability to interact with reality. One day while leaving his apartment to go to his mindless job as a typesetter, Stéphane attempts to aid two men who are having trouble carrying a piano up a flight of stairs. In doing so, Stéphane's hand is injured and the piano falls down the flight of stairs. The owner of the piano is Stéphane's new neighbor, Stéphanie (celebrated musician Charlotte Gainsbourg - daughter of the weird French national treasure Serge Gainsbourg), who soon becomes the unassuming object of his affection. Their childlike relationship becomes a catalyst for his dreams (comically represented as Stéphane TV) and romantic frustration.

I found this film incredibly satisfying both in terms of narrative exposition and one of the finest artistic presentations of the dreamworld ever captured on film. When Stéphane and Stéphanie come together over an art project, their magical visions become a world unto themselves. Gondry is extremely gifted, as evidenced by his previous films and music videos, but his sensitivity to a certain innocence of dreams and love here make him deeply respected by this viewer. Bernal (Y tu Mamá También, Babel and The Motorcycle Diaries) is convincing and infectious in his emphatic role. The entire cast is brilliant - I was particularly taken by Alain Chabat's portrayal of Guy, a young-at-heart office manager. I highly recommend this film.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars


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