“ Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy - Fantasy / Theatrical Release: 2006 / Director: Michel Gondry / Actors: Gael García Bernal, Charlotte Gainsbourg / DVD released 06 February, 2007 at Warner Home Video / Features of the DVD: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Colour, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC „
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This last week, despite my best efforts I have been suffering from the darn flu that is currently going around and in between amassing a small pharmacy of flu remedies and looking for some suitable viewing while I was refusing to get out of bed, I rediscovered this film in my collection. A film which was pretty much ignored on it's release despite receiving a lot of positive press from critics, which is only the more surprising at the time with Director Michel Gondry coming in hot after the phenomenal success of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and memorable in the conscious of the movie going public, an advantage which allowed Gondry seemingly unlimited creative freedom for this project, which would also be the first film written by him, with his previous films both being scripted by the equally visionary screenwriter Charlie Kaufman probably best known for writing "Being John Malkovich" and while "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" might have been trippy, this film would be turn out to be on a whole new surreal level.
Set around Stephane (Gael Garcia Bernal) a frequent lucid dreamer, who seemingly spends as much time in his own personal dream world as he does in the real world. Having returned from Mexico to his childhood home in Paris, following the death of his father, he takes up a job at a Calendar Company believing that it will provide the outlet for his creativity he craves, while also forming a relationship with Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who shares Stephane's overactive sense of creativity. Meanwhile Stephane finds himself frequently frustrated by the lack of creativity his work provides, aswell as from having to deal with his eccentric work colleagues which only further his jaunts into his personal dream world, as he now finds the line between the two only becoming all the more blurred.
Coming from a background in commercials and Music videos, much like equally visual directors such as David Fincher and Spike Jonze who bizarly also made the transition to feature films around the same time as Gondry did, though while they may have expanded on their earlier styles, Gondry has reminded determinedly set in his own surreal world of DIY props and dream like imagery, while frequently drawing inspiration from his own dreams and has frequently used this imagery as part of his work, which makes it only all the more sense that he would eventually make a film about dreams.
The casting is nothing short of bold, with the two leads being realativly unknowns to most movie goers, bar those with a taste for Foreign and independent cinema. Having made the pitch black "The King" a year earlier this film would be Bernal's second film to be shot in English, having previously only being known to fans of foreign cinema for his roles in "Y tu mamá también" and the fantastic "Amores perros" this film would continue his trend for fearlessly choosing his roles, especially with a character as frenzied as Stephane. Equally inspired is the casting of the little known Gainsbourg who is equally believable as Stephanie while seemingly to genuinely believe and buy into the world which Stephane lives inside, while also being shown as the stereotypical hot art student with her personal styling and room layout, which also is hinted with the intoxicating essence of Parisian flair.
Split down the middle, the film frequently switches between two worlds, the real one and the world of Stephane's dream and more precisely "Stephane TV" his own TV show in his mind were he frequently reflects on current events happening around him, while providing the gateway into the even more surreal parts of his mind, with Gondry frequently choosing to switch between these two worlds frequently without warning, which can be a disorientating experience upon your first viewing and it's really only on the second viewing that it becomes easier to identify the boundary lines between these two worlds, even when those lines frequently become all the more blurred as the film goes on, especially as Stephane's dreams only grow in intensity.
This constant disorientation is only furthered by the frequent switches in the characters speaking French and English, also like the switches in reality with little or no warning, only making it more the appropriate when this is picked up by Stephane, who complains that it is making him feel "Schizophrenic". Still Gondry somehow manages to get the audience to buy into this style of storytelling, which is highly reminiscent of French New Wave directors such as Jean-Luc Godard and from the retro opening titles onwards I found myself frequently comparing the work of the two directors, especially with both being key in furthering the progression of visionary cinema, it was interesting to see Gondry seemingly referencing Godard's work, while also drawing inspiration from the more established visionaries like Terry Gilliam and David Cronenberg whose Spider like Typewriter from "Naked Lunch" making a surprise appearance here.
The dream sequences are truly the main selling point of this film, as Gondry lets loose with some of his most ambitious imagery to date, as he constructs elaborate sets from cardboard and polystyrene combined with heavy use of stop motion animation, while for those familiar with Gondry's work will recognise the now all familiar giant hands which have frequently appeared at various points in his previous music videos and films to the point were they are almost as established as his other trademarks, despite having originally been born out of a frequent childhood nightmares about his hands growing to gigantic size, to the point were his mother would have to continuously rubs his hands to assure him that it was nothing more than a dream, though for such an unpleasant childhood memory it bizarre that it would feature so frequently in his work. Still frequently these sequences often do feel like an excuse for Gondry to pull out his film making bag of tricks, especially when so many scenes seem reminiscent of his earlier work.
Ultimately this would be his most ambitious film to date and also prove to be the zenith of his creativity, as the films which followed would see him gradually toning down his vision with his follow up "Be Kind Rewind" being firmly set in reality despite the heavy use of DIY props to now an almost mainstream style of film making seen with "The Green Hornet" which lacked any of Gondry's trademark touches, though it remains to be seen how mainstream he has become as fan's now egerly await the forthcoming "The We and the I".
Ultimately though this is a tale of doomed love and it's sudden and abrasive ending will no doubt only further exclude it from the tastes of your average movie goer, while for those of you who like to be visually inspired by your film, there is much to enjoy, even if it does require your full attention to keep up with it's continual switches, while only making you hope that Gondry returns to this style of film making soon.
Star - Michel Gondry
Certificate - 15
Run Time - 105 minutes
Genre - Art House
Country - France (subtitles)
Director Michel Gondry is an acquired taste. His Oscar for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was welcome as it was a surprise, not the sort of film The Academy goes for, where as other efforts of his, like Be Kind Rewind, leave people scratching their head and getting irritable. It's the same problem with The Science of Sleep. But he is different and talented and Be kind Rewind even made Jack Black worth a second look after the jolly fat man sunk without trace after the excellent School of Rock. Any director that can bring some different to dilute Hollywood cliché has to be give a go.
Like Ridley Scott, and many more Oscar winning directors, Gondry cut his teeth in pop videos and commercials, responsible for most of Bjorks work, which explains why is films are so out there and often surreal. He was also in a band called 'Qui Qui'- the drummer! Problem is after three or four of his films you realise he is just an eccentric Frenchman making films for himself and so given a pretentious and whimsy style that won't appeal to a large audience, the absolute problem with The Science of Sleep. I'm not saying it's badly made or anything but just one of those films that the director knows won't find much of an audience but arrogantly made by likewise people anyway.
Gael García Bernal ... Stéphane Miroux
Charlotte Gainsbourg ... Stéphanie
Alain Chabat ... Guy
Miou-Miou ... Christine Miroux
Pierre Vaneck ... Monsieur Pouchet
Emma de Caunes ... Zoé
Aurélia Petit ... Martine
Sacha Bourdo ... Serge
25-year-old Stéphane Miroux (Gael García Bernal) has moved to Paris to live with his mother after his father died of cancer in his native Argentina. He has always dreamed of being an illustrator and so Paris a great place to follow those dreams, dreams what Stéphane live most his life in.
Mum pulls some strings to get him a job in small printing firm in the city, but not the glamorous job he was expecting, mostly menial photocopying work making up cheap calendars. But Stéphane has an extremely active imagination and soon brings the office and its roll call of oddball characters alive in his daydreams to kill the tedium and make sure they fit into his imaginary hierarchy. His favourite escape is to his fantasy TV show, the studio made completely of cardboard, where he spends most of his dreams as presenter of the 'Stéphane Show'.
But life is about to change when he falls for his pretty neighbour in the apartment across the hall, pretty English student Stéphanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg), who shares the flat with her Zoé (Emma de Caunes). Although Stéphanie is his kindred spirit and enjoys his creative mind and likes the same things and so a connection of sorts, she still thinks he is a little bit wet behind the ears in the ways of women and so not reciprocating his affections, her immature handsome admirer yet to reveal that he lives with his mum across the landing. But those crazy workmates, headed by the obnoxious Guy (Alain Chabat), take it upon themselves to try and pair them up and Stéphane all ears on anything that would help. Love always finds a way, right?
The word 'Sleep' in the title is very appropriate, this getting tiresome very quickly as the film becomes a Michel Gondry fantasy of his misspelt youth. I meant misspelt and not misspent as he has obvious talent but it's all jumbled up. There is no suggestion this is a biopic in any way from the director but you know we are going deep into his bonkers mind to make a case, especially as the film was shot in the same Paris flat he lived in 15 years previous. The casting of sexy Mexican actor Gael García Bernal in the lead (the Johnny Depp of Latin American cinema) is the vanity we are dealing with here.
It becomes all rather pretentious and flaky midway through as a love story unfolds you don't really care about and you start reaching for the remote control and kettle to speed it up to make it end. The movie just doest go anywhere meaningful or feel romantic enough to get involved in. Adding to the chaos is the mix of spoken languages here, at least four, and the subtitles packed around them. The pinning young man goes for the 'interesting girl' storyline is all a bit parochial and the fantasy and dream sequences that come thick and fast get very tiring and irrelevant, the film becoming somewhat 'studenty' by the end. Charlotte Gainsbourg is badly cast as the English girl in Paris and Gael García Bernal there only as eye candy, although he does the best he can with the geek role he has been presented.
I quite enjoyed the policeman joke with the piano but the too cool for school soundtrack and the idea that these two wouldn't get it on is tooth pulling irritating and so the whole thing becomes unaffectionate towards its audience. It's another very visual film from Gondry with elements of Spotless Mind still in the system but nothing new here. The film was purchased for $6 million dollars at the 2006 Sundance Festival in the hope it would repeat the previous films success and the low cost of $ 6.4 million more to make suggesting a decent gross but it would be just $4.6 million back because of those subtitles and presumably poor word-of-mouth so three out of four flops for Gondry it is.
Imdb.com - 7.4/10.0(41,564 votes)
Metacritc.com - 70% critics approval rating
Rottentomatos.com - 71% critics approval rating
Radio Times Film Year Book -
Leonard Maltin Film Year Book -
The Times - "Gondry always manages to maintain a childlike wonder in the magic of creating a moving image, and never is it more evident than in this film"
The Guardian - "It suffers occasionally from self-consciousness and over-indulgence in its own oddity, but Gondry's grasp of emotion and visuals is enchanting. Even if he seems several sandwiches short of a picnic".
This is London - "It's all lovely to look at, but becomes progressively wearisome"
The Settle Times - "It's not that The Science of Sleep is a terrible film. It's not. It's just that it doesn't operate properly and there's nothing worse than seeing a film in which obvious design and potential is ultimately unfulfilled.
The Independent - "Dreams are easy to invent, and as easy to forget. The real challenge is to invent stories that have a stake in logic as well as truth".
Charlotte Gainsbourg - good ...
Gael Garcia Bernal - very good ...
Michel Gondry - double very good ...
The Science of Sleep should be a quite wonderful film, what with its impressive cast and the return of director Gondry to the world of weird-and-wonderful feature films after Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Which was just brilliant. This, though, has a touch more weirdness than wonder about it, and though it makes an undeniably arresting visual impression, it has a tendency to leaves its viewers a bit disorientated in the rolly-polly jumbling of fantasy and reality.
Stephane is a creative young man with at least one foot firmly in a dream world of his own making. Returning to his childhood home in France to live with his mother after his estranged father's passing, he quickly finds his unchallenging new job as a typesetter unsatisfying, and loses himself in fantasy. Frustrated by his struggles with the French language (he a Spanish and English-speaker) and disappointed by the lukewarm reception his company offers to his concept of a calendar based on twelve famous disasters - "Each month has its own infamous disastrous event engraved in the collective memory ..." - he is uplifted, however, by an encounter with the delectable (and equally fantastically-inclined) Stephanie, who lives next door. Only she doesn't realise they're neighbours. Nor does he think to tell her. And then it seems a bit too late ... and so proceeds a surreal farce that certainly has its touching moments, if you have a steady hand and a fine pair of tweezers to pick them out of the near-limitless expanses of visual delights and all-round-weirdness that this story swims in.
Whereas Gondry collaborated with screenwriter Charlie Kaufmann to create Eternal Sunshine, this film is entirely the director's work, for better and worse. Previously a music-video director with a keen sense of inventive visual style, the aesthetic quirks of The Science of Sleep are almost a given - but Gondry is also able to carry this offbeat, absurd flair into the storytelling. Like Spike Jonze, David Fincher and Tarsem Singh, he has adapted the successful formula that brought him such acclaim in music and has found himself wonderfully at home on the big stage of the big screen. That he manages to pull off this faintly farcical dreamscape without losing the sense of heart in the story is commendable, and though viewing the world through the perplexing filter of Stephane's imagination creates a slightly muddled effect, the strength of the leads keeps the romantic strand of the story above water.
Garcia Bernal is an extremely talented actor who here underscores his adaptability with a funny, sympathetic flight from the mundanity of his character's new life. Better known in Mexican and Spanish cinema, this French-English-Spanish-Italian co-production has him near his best, having great fun with the role. Charlotte Gainsbourg balances out Garcia Bernal's performance with a character who is similarly prone to losing herself to fantasy, although the greater grip her feet have on the ground poses some problems for the fumbling, tentative progress of their relationship. She manages to exude a worldy-wise persona that at first seems to look down on Stephane's childish whimsy, but the more we see of her, the more we realise this is something of a front, and perhaps she even sees something to envy in his fancy-free ideals. They're a nice couple on-screen, although she still seems a little mature for flighty Stephane by the end.
Through clever use of stop-motion animation, Gondry gives the film a distinctive, charming style - and creates some wonderful dream-sequences that really capture the jumbled logic of the sleeping brain. What Stephane experiences is certainly weird and cute, but it also makes a degree of sense; we see his everyday life, and we see his dreams, and together, somewhere in there, we understand better the burgeoning course of the leads' relationship. The Science of Sleep, then, succeeds on two levels - it's a fine, warmly wacky love story that moves with the kind of indie charm that seems to be the angle-of-choice for romances over the last few years. It's also a demonstration of the skills of a director who makes chronicling the surreal look easy - which it really isn't, not without being self-consciously weird and unconventional.
There are imperfections in the film, of course - without Kaufmann's incisive script, this isn't the smooth, flawless experience that Eternal Sunshine was (although that's demanding something close to perfection). The characters work well together, but you can't see them lasting, which is realistic enough but a little unsatisfying - they, like the script, blows a little hot and cold. The film rolls around in a childlike, playful atmosphere, though, and you tend to forgive it its shortcomings in the name of experimentation and inventiveness. Surrender yourself to its ups and downs, and you'll find it ambitious, entertaining, and a strong third film from a supremely talented director.
This is something I agree on entirely with my brother, this is one of my favourite films too. It is wishy washy, it is weak in so many points, the writing, acting and the visuals will be considered fairly basic by some, but this is a triumph of imagination over content in so many senses.
The film is directed by Michel Gondry a French director well known for music videos for Bjork, White Stripes and other cool bands, he also directed the similarly wonderful 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' which had greater critical acclaim and probably more of a story than this.
The basic premise of the story is that Stephane (Gael Garcia Bernal) moves to Paris to live with his mother following the death of his father and takes up an incredibly dull job making corporate calendars. Life is anything but interesting for Stephane but in his dreams he is happy. Stephane falls for his neighbour across the hall, Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg), but as his feelings develop he finds it hard to differentiate between dreams and reality and we realise that Stephane actually has mental health problems as well as those relating to romance.
Gael García Bernal ... Stéphane Miroux
Charlotte Gainsbourg ... Stéphanie
Alain Chabat ... Guy
Miou-Miou ... Christine Miroux
Pierre Vaneck ... Monsieur Pouchet
Emma de Caunes ... Zoé
Aurélia Petit ... Martine
Sacha Bourdo ... Serge
Stéphane Metzger ... Sylvain
Alain de Moyencourt ... Gérard (as Decourt Moyen)
Inigo Lezzi ... Monsieur Persinnet
Yvette Petit ... Ivana
Jean-Michel Bernard ... Piano-playing Poli
My esteemed opinion:
This is an incredibly weird and wonderful film, if you want structure, plotting and substance then switch off in the first two minutes because you won't get it here. If you want a whimsical love story with twists and turns and visual imagination to burn then watch this.
The film is a weird mix of languages with the Mexican Bernal struggling with French and speaking English, while Charlotte Gainsbourg is clearly adept in any number of languages. The visual set pieces in this film are awesome for the most part, some of the things you see are unique and unforgettable, but bewarned some do look a bit tatty and if you aren't into this film you'll laugh at them for the wrong reasons.
The acting is fine, Bernal plays the tortured Stephane well, a nice guy who is totally confused, his mental issues aren't explored fully but underneath the whimsy there was a disturbing element to his character which I found interesting and different.
Charlotte Gainsbourg as Stephanie is beautiful, adult and a perfect foil for this incompetent child, she is a romantic and the developing friendship and potential love affair is beautifully played without coming across as too commercial.
The supporting cast are awesome with Alan Chabat excellent as a misogynistic work colleague.
I found everything about this film wonderful, I love unconventional love stories and this is totally unconventional. At times it does come across as self-conscious and knowingly odd, but most of the oddness makes sense in plot terms and Gondry creates an imaginative place for the story to develop.
The visuals are astounding and you wonder what kind of mind could come up with this, but I lapped it up and found I wanted to see more so always keep my eyes open for future Gondry releases, this is an international film that lacked some of the cutting writing of 'Eternal Sunshine' but it does have a huge heart and is an utterly beguilling romance.
The music is cool and whimsical, the cast are great fun and the film is colourful, beautifully romantic and odder than a guest appearance by Nick Cave in a Westlife video.
If your a bit odd or like things that don't have to make sense, then you will love this, if not then stick to the next Adam Sandler film.
The DVD is £11.95 on Amazon but it is also available for £4.99 in Fopp.
Before i start writing about this film i have to say that i absolutely love michel Gondrey. I loved eternal sunshine of the spottless mind and many of his music videos. If you think that you might not of seen any of his work think again he music videos for bjork, white stripes and many other bands.
the main character stephane (played by Gael Garcia Bernal) has a real problem with sleeping, his problem is that he cannot distingish deams from reality this seeps into his work life and also his personal life.
I love the very kitschness of his dreams and the fact that most of the scenes are made with cardboard and things like coloured plastic and cotton wool. It has a very childlike quality to it.
Shephane becomes close with his neighbour Stephanie and he falls in love with her. I really like some of the scenes when they are together, they both have very creative personalities with Stephane being an artist and Stephanie being a musician. My favourite scene is where they are playing with cotton wool and saying that it has a very cloud like feel to it and they start chucking it in the air. Then stephane starts playing on the piano and when he finds the right chord for it to stay in the air.
I love the way that throughout the film you are always wondering whether this is a dream or whether these things are actually happening in his real life. It really makes you think and you never really know.
Director Michel Gondry is a man who cut his teeth in music videos. His videos were always the ones with a certain 'wow' factor, be they for Bjork, Chemical Brothers, White Stripes or even Kylie, they always displayed Gondry's bizarre visual style and let him play around with many different effects. His foray into film began with Charlie Kaufman, starting with the unusual Human Nature before popping out an amazing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The Science of Sleep (SoS - because it's too long a title to keep writing it all the time) is Gondry's first feature length entirely under his own steam. And boy is it good.
The thing with Gondry is he's obsessed with dreams, and has a funny knack of transferring that strange muddled dream-world on to film. So SoS is all about Stéphane, a young guy with vivid dreams and difficulty in separating them from the real world - a characteristic that makes things a tad difficult when he starts to fall in love with his neighbour. The film is essentially one of those romantic ones with irritating misunderstandings that have "hilarious" results, but under the whimsical, fantastical brain of Gondry it takes on a whole new tone. I think the best word to describe it is charming. Utterly charming.
Mixing live action with a variety of animation techniques creates a sort of child-like quality to the film (Gondry's passion for animation is apparent back in his music video days - check out his White Stripes video made almost entirely of lego). Toy horses suddenly scamper across the floor, water becomes animated sweet wrappers, the outside world becomes a pulsating mass of cardboard cut-outs. It could all very easily slip into a mess of 'huh?' but Gondry keeps everything in check, with a firm enough grip on reality to make a convincing story.
Gondry penned the script himself and creates flowing, genuinely funny dialogue. It's helped in its delivery by the lead, Gael Garcia Bernal, who is quite frankly incredibly gorgeous. He's also a pretty fine actor, making Stéphane sympathetic, endearing, a little bit insane and also quite sexy all at once. He switches from sulking toddler, to loved-up fool, to frightened child, to slightly obsessed crazy, to excitable tot, and not once do you lose belief in his character, even when he comes out with statements like "I like your boobs. They're very friendly and unpretentious."
I watched this film with a continuous smile broken only by bouts of laughter. It told a familiar story in an original way, was visually fascinating and had a big ol' heart beating behind all of it.
Directed by Michel Gondry, 'The Science of Sleep' is an unusual film which explores the depths of human imagination. Stéphane Miroux (Gael García Bernal) is an illustrator with a set of unusual artistic ideas. When Miroux 's mother finds him a job in Paris, Stéphane leaves his native Mexico to begin what he thinks will be a challenging and creative career. Unfortunately, the new job isn't quite as expected, and things take a turn for the bizarre when he meets his new and similarly unusual neighbour 'Stéphanie' (Charlotte Gainsbourg).
When Miroux's job becomes increasingly dull, the lead character makes up for it by creating a makebelieve dream world which defines what he does in the waking hours. As the film progresses, as a viewer, it becomes increasingly difficult to decipher what is dream and what is reality. These dreamlike sequences are very well done, and have an old-skool stop-motion feel to them, providing the film with a strong visual identity. Unfortunately, whilst these imaginative elements are really good, the rest of the film loses the plot a little, due to a screenplay which could be considered a little dull.
The film is unusual in the sense that there is a multi-lingual narrative - it will be in French for fifiteen minutes or so with English subtitles, and then transfer to English for an undefined period before reverting back. For me, this unique system added to the appeal of the experience, and it helped increase the general intrigue of the movie.
The science of dreams has a non-mainstream and arty feel about it - I suppose I would compare it to a direct cross between 'Being Jon Malkovich' and 'Amelie' - although it lacks the quaint appeal which defines both of those titles.
The acting was of a very high standard throughout, and in particular, high praise should be given to the lead performance of Garcia Bernal, who is entirely convincing in the role. Similarly, Charlotte Gainsbourg delivers the goods with an inspired display.
Whilst enjoying The Science of Sleep, I felt that overall it could have engaged the viewer a little more as the overall story seemed to be not as clever as it could have been - in particular, the last half hour dragged a little, and a few ends were left untied which left me questioning. I had similar issues with Gondry's 'Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind', which although enjoyable, was occasionally frustrating to watch.
In conclusion, although not a stunning movie, I would still recommend watching The Science of Sleep as it's just so downright odd! - Recommended.
The DVD version of Science of Sleep can currently be purchased for £3.98 from Amazon.
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Gael García Bernal - Stéphane Miroux
Charlotte Gainsbourg - Stéphanie
Alain Chabat - Guy
Miou-Miou - Christine Miroux
Pierre Vaneck - Monsieur Pouchet
Emma de Caunes - Zoé
I'll be honest you will either love or hate this film, it doesn't really have a structure as such the story is about Gael Garcia Bernal's character Stephane who moves to Paris from Mexico and into a flat his mother has arranged for him as well as a job creating Calendars. He is a very abstract individual obsessed with inventions and has a condition where reality and dreams intermesh and he is not quite sure which is which.
Next door is Staphanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a character he initially acts coldly towards but gradually falls in love with as she too is dreamy and inspired by her imagination.
The love story is not always a happy one as Stephane upsets Stephanie and retreats to his dreams and nightmares of how things are and how they should be. Stephane is portrayed as a manchild in the film, at times incredibly annoying and childish and it seems he almost has mental health issues sometimes.
The hand made special effects are both cheap and incredibly dreamy, the acting is at times emotional and at times ridiculous and the film for me is a heartwarming one, I believe it tells me that you should never lose your imagination, you should be yourself no matter how odd you are and that love conquers all.
I love Michel Gondry and this film is brilliant, for some people it may be unwatchable with the mix of French, English and Spanish, the at times child-like visuals and Stephane's annoying, yet ultimately lovable personality, but then if I learnt anything from this film its that we're all different and we should celebrate that!!!
The film is beautiful and personal and I love it.
The DVD has the following:
Main Language: English\French
Available Audio Tracks: Dolby Digital 5.1
Audio commentary by writer/director Michel Gondry
The Making of The Science of Sleep
Featurette on Lauri Faggioni, Creator of Animals and Accessories
Music video - ?Rescue Me? by Linda Serbu
I bought this film a few months ago after having seen several films starring the main actor, Gael Garcia Bernal, as I loved his other films and thought that he was a great actor. The fact that the DVD only cost me £3 in HMV also convinced me to buy it, as I figured that even if it was a let down, at least I hadn't wasted my money on it. I didn't get round to watching it, however, until a few days ago, as I've been busy and have many other unwatched DVDs that I had watched in preference of this one, as I wasn't sure exactly what to expect.
Having said that, now that I've seen the film, I don't know exactly what I could have expected. The film centres around Stephane Miroux (Gael Garcia Bernal), a Mexican, who has just moved to France where his mother lives, as she has gotten him a job at a calendar company. He becomes attracted to his neighbour, Stephanie, though it is difficult for a relationship to happen, as he often cannot distinguish between dreams and reality. The film contains many scenes where we see Stephane's imaginary world inside his head, where he hosts his own TV show 'Stephane TV', in a studio made of cardboard and egg boxes, and everything is real yet unreal. Stephane's imaginary and dream worlds often interfere with his real life, as he confuses the two on a daily basis.
So far, so strange. This film has a great premise, and Stephane's dreams and imaginations are shot in a believable dreamlike way, which makes the film enjoyable and interesting. It also, however, makes the plot confusing in many places, and I often found it difficult to tell when something had happened in real life or when it was just in Stephane's head. Many points do clarify themselves later on in the film, and I do feel that this is a film that I would understand more on a second viewing, but after watching it I do still feel unsure about a few things that happened in the film. Though, this is possibly what the film makers intended to make the viewer feel, as throughout the film Stephane himself is unsure what has happened and what hasn't.
For those of you who don't know Gael Garcia Bernal, he has starred in many Spanish language, most notably 'The Motorcycle Diaries', 'Y tu mama tambien', 'Amores Perros' and Pedro Almodovar's 'Bad Education'. I greatly enjoyed his acting in all of these films, and as I mentioned earlier, that is the main reason why I bought this DVD. Gael is by far the most prominent character in this film, as he features in every scene, and so it is good that he is a very good actor, and plays his part of a partly mad young man who finds much of the world confusing very well. I have no complaints about his co-stars, such as Charlotte Gainsbourg who plays his neighbour Stephanie, as they were also good, though Gael definitely steals the show.
I should quickly mention the graphics and special effects in this film too, as they are used quite a lot in the dream or semi-reality sequences. He has one dream, for example, where he and his friends are going skiing, yet all the slopes and people look like they have been made out of plasticine or some other material from a difference, which does give these scenes a distinct dream-like quality. There is also a part where cellophane and water comes out of a tap, as it is meant to look like fake water, although this is in a scene which I thought was really happening, though it helped to cast doubt on whether Stephane is awake or just imagining or dreaming. These effects look like they are fairly low budget, but they are an interesting and notable part of the film which I enjoyed, and their simplicity and almost crassness is largely what I enjoy about them.
The last thing that I will mention about this film is the languages used in the dialogues. Stephane himself is Mexican, so his first language is Spanish, yet his mother is French and he lives in France, so he can get by fairly well in that language, but not fluently, though for the majority of the film the characters converse in English. This may be an accurate representation of how people in many countries communicate when they have different mother tongues, as I do know that in many parts of the world English is used as a Lingua Franca (universal language) for those who do not speak each other's first languages. There is still, however, many scenes and conversations held predominately in French, but luckily for the British viewer these parts are subtitled in English so that you can understand. As someone who is extremely interested in and studies languages, I found this mix of English, French and a small amount of Spanish to be very interesting, as it shows how people switch which language they are speaking in depending on the circumstance. It also helped to show the confusion of the world that Stephane lives in, and how switching between different languages can be overly confusing for him to cope with.
So, in conclusion, I did enjoy this film greatly, although parts of it were and still are fairly confusing to me. The acting by Garcia Bernal was fantastic, as always, and I am yet to see him in a bad film. The graphics and bizarre world in Stephane's head gave the film a unique quality which I enjoyed, and the storyline was interesting too. I would say that this film is a bit too unusual for a mainstream audience, but I believe that if you only watch mainstream films then you're missing the best of what the film industry has to offer, so please don't be put off at all by the fact that it's a bit quirky. I can see how this is a film which will divide many audiences, as there will be people who love it and those who don't like it at all or don't understand it. Personally, I lie between the two and like it, and would go as far as to recommend it, though whereas I will happily watch it again, it is never going to be one of my favourite movies.
I had only vaguely heard of this film and probably would never have got round to watching it had a friend not lent it to me. I am certainly no film buff and had not seen anything of Michel Gondry's before, but knowing that he had made music videos for Bjork was more than enough to encourage me to give 'The Science of Sleep' a go. Half an hour into the film, however, I was on the point of switching it off. For some reason I stayed with it and was eventually glad that I had.
Stephane Miroux (Gael Garcia Bernal) has just returned to Paris from Mexico following his father's death. A creative artist, he has, thanks to his Parisian mother (Miou Miou), landed a job with a company that makes calendars. Stephane discovers on his first morning that the job merely involves typesetting and is not impressed.
Setting off down the winding stairs to work one morning, Stephane has to help carry a piano up to the flat next to his where Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is moving in. He injures his hand in the process and has it bandaged by Stephanie's friend Zoe (Emma de Caunes). Stephane initially appears to be attracted to Zoe, but the similarity in their names hints that the real attraction may turn out to be between Stephane and Stephanie. Things do not run smoothly, however, and neither side is ready to reveal their true self: Stephanie and Zoe lie to Stephane about their jobs, whilst he tries to hide the fact that he lives next door and is the son of Stephanie's landlady (since his mother owns the building).
The film is a blend of reality and strikingly typical dream sequences that are at times difficult to distinguish. Some of the dream scenarios contain authentic touches from Gondry's past, where for example he has enormously oversized hands. I didn't, however, appreciate the early one where he runs riot in the office; the handmade cityscape viewed through the window appeared particularly tacky. This is where I almost switched off but then decided to hang in.
The film began to grow on me from that point on. It seemed to be a refreshing change from the slickness of Hollywood. Stephane and Stephanie each wear the same clothes throughout most of the film; Stephanie, who hand-crafts charming artifacts, appears to have little or no make-up and is usually seen in a cosy jumper and jeans. No-one appears to be overly attractive, and my feeling was that the film was truer to life because of this. The dream sequences, of course, penetrate a fantasy world. Accessories such as a felt typewriter and stuffed animals were created for the film by Lauri Faggioni, and some of these are just enchanting. We see cellophane water gushing out of taps, and twisting mazes of cardboard motorways busy with cars crafted from toilet rolls. It's an animator's paradise.
In essence this is a film about relationships, or to be more precise, the uncertain moves towards a relationship that entail misunderstandings, rejection, unfortunate chances of fate. There are moments of joy in amongst the complications, however, and the dream episodes make this a film apart from the run-of-the-mill romantic comedy. The plot is not the film's strong point. The elements of fantasy and the whole amateurish or hand-made feel of the artifacts and the stop-motion animation are what make this film a delight.
Bernal and Gainsbourg are for me perfectly cast as Stephane and Stephanie. They come over as natural people and I felt that they genuinely enjoyed making the film. Alain Chabat as Guy at the office appears totally obnoxious at first, but he turns out to be a loyal friend to Stephane. Aurelia Petit as Martine, another office colleague, is not the most attractive woman and it seems so typical that she tends to pop up in Stephane's dreams, on one occasion sharing a bubble bath with him.
The film has a 15 certificate because of bad language and sexual references. Running time is around 102 minutes. The majority of the film is in French (subtitled, of course), but be prepared for a little English and Spanish, with the odd bit of gobbledygook in one or two of the dream sequences.
Extras on the DVD kick off with a commentary on the entire film by Michel Gondry, Gael Garcia Bernal, Charlotte Gainsbourg plus one or two others. I found this interesting in parts, but Gondry speaks English with a very heavy accent and there are one or two comments in French which are not translated. At one point the group were in fits of laughter but I had no idea why.
More interesting for me was the extra on the making of the Science of Sleep, particularly as it gives an insight into the creation of some of the artifacts and the animated sequences. A featurette on Lauri Faggioni, who made the animals and accessories, was quite delightful. Much as I love cats, however, I was somewhat surprised at the inclusion of an extra on Linda Serbu's rescue home for her darling 'kitties' as she calls them. At one point in the film, Stephane and two of his colleagues don cat costumes and perform the song 'Rescue Me', which features again here in a different context. I just found Serbu's manner a little off-putting, but it's all in a good cause. As usual there is a trailer to the film.
This is obviously not a film that everyone will appreciate. If you are looking for action-packed drama or a thrilling plot with slick characters, stay away. If, however, you are interested in the tentative moves of human beings that are attracted to each other, or the world of dreams (the film's original title in French means 'The Science of Dreams') and you are looking for something a little different that is in some ways charming and in others rough round the edges, you will most likely enjoy The Science of Sleep. Four stars from me.
Also to be posed on other review sites (on Ciao as denella).
The Science of Sleep is a wonderful off the wall movie directed by Michael Gondry, who is maybe better known for the film The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and (although I am not sure why he chose this film - I haven't seen it so maybe I am judging the film by it's cover) Be Kind, Rewind. It is an amazingly beautiful film of a love story of sorts between two neighbours, Stephane and Stephanie, and the fantasy world in which the former occupies. Every scene is beautifully shot and the English subtitles are not annoying in the least - something you can be only too aware of when watching a foreign language film sometimes. What is so wonderful about the film is that sometimes you can never be 100% sure exactly what is real and what isn't. And sometimes you are watching the film through gaps in your fingers - I must admit cringing at the concept of him pretending he wasn't Stephanie's neighbour. But I don't want to give too much away - you have to see it to know exactly what I am talking about.
Folowing the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a film that quickly made it into my favourites, I eagerly awaited the release of Michel Gondrys second full feature directing piece in the form of The Science of Sleep, and I am glad to say I was not disappointed.
The film continues the surreal aspects, in fact possibly taking this further than the previous film, as it tells the tale of the loveless Stephane, pining hopelessly for his neighbour Stephanie. The originality of this lovestory struck me as so beautiful, it refuses constantly to give the viewer what they expect, instead choosing to surprise us with a more avante garde depiction of a relationship. Neither Stephane or Stephanie ever fully appear to come together, always somehow seeming just out of synch in some way, represented within the film maybe by the time machine that can only travel forwards or backwards by a couple of seconds.
The relationship is pined over mostly in Stephans dreams, that are depicted in brilliant and baffling 3d, and as the narrative continues we see Stephanes dreams and reality becomming more and more confused, at times acting things out in his sleep, to wake and discover the letter he dreamed hed sent, he had actualy sent sleep walking.
If I were to start explaining Garcia dressed as a cat singing a love song entitled Rescue Me, or the toy horse that becomes full sized to take Stephan and Stephanie around a field as clingfilm water runs through the stream I fear I will simply begin to confuse you. These aspects mean the film is truely best watched than described, and I would suggest it can be enjoyed by all. The surreal aspects could frighten away some viewers afraid of the Art House style filmmaking, however Gondry manages to take these alternative filmmaking aspects and use them in a narrative fully accesable by all!
Altogether a brilliantly enjoyable film, with a certain fairy tale aspect that truely refuses to leave your mind after watching this. Your dreams will never be the same again!
Gael Garcia Benal is fast becoming a heart throb amongst the discerning female audience who have managed to catch any of his films; Bad Education, The King, Motorcycle Diaries amongst them.
This time around he teams up with avant garde music video director, and the man behind 'Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind', Michel Gondry. Anyone who has seen any of videos he directed (Bjork and Kylie amongst the artists he has created for) will know what a bizarre and surreal artistic mind he has.
Science of Sleep is a French made film, though unusually for them the majority of the dialogue is in English. It is also one of the most unusual romance films you will ever see! I thought fellow French romantic comedy 'Love Me If You Dare' would take some beating for surreal story, downright odd story development and crazy scenes but Science of Sleep beats it hands down. I guess the best description of the movie is that off romantic fantasy.
The plot is simple, Stephane has moved back to France, from South America, at the behest of his mother. She has found him a job and wants him to stay in an apartment she has in the city. He moves in and meets his next door neighbour, Stephanie, a young woman he immediately falls for. She likes him to but his eccentricities and unstable connection to reality may prevent them from finding out how they really feel about each other.
Stephane lives his life on the edge of reality and dreams. He is constantly dreaming, but to him his dreams are real. When he finds it hard to put some typesetting in place for a calendar at work it is not because it is particularly hard but because he finds it boring and in his fantastic imagination his hands have grown to ten times their normal size and he cant actually get hold of the lettering he needs to use. He dreams of cardboard cities and cellophane water coming out of taps, the problem is too much of his time is spent in the dream/fantasy compared to the real one.
Confusingly he seems to have a shared dream world with Stephanie as she occasionally seems to see the same sort of things he does. Whether this is because it is all part of his fantasy or if it's because she is dreaming with him.
Science of Sleep is such a mix of surreal visual images and normal reality that at some stages it is very hard to unravel exactly what is real and what isn't, in fact at times to even know what on earth is going on. The romance between the similarly named Stephane and Stephanie is reasonably straightforward, it is the side stepping into the fantastical imagination of Stephane that not only confuses the viewer but also raises the film above the norm.
The dreams, the fantasies and the visions that inhabit Stephanes live are a feast for your eyes. Very rarely do you see a film that is so visual and I think that is the only way to take Science of Sleep, enjoy the quirky, colourful images and let the actual story drop into the background. Enjoy the childlike nature of Stephane, his attempts at romance and how his enthusiasm spreads to those around him.
Science of Sleep is a film with minimal appeal but is such a joy to watch if you want to take the chance on the sheer strangeness of it! It is a one of a kind movie, you are unlikely to see anything at all like it again.
Gondry has certainly advanced his directorial career with this and has shown that he also is a writer of quality as well. It will certainly be worth keeping an eye out for whatever he comes up with next, in either creative endeavour.
The same can be said for Benal as well, once again he acts up a storm and shows he can manage almost any kind of style of acting. I've loved him in everything I've seen him in and again will be waiting for his next starring role.
Even though Charlotte Gainsburg has a big role in the film as Stephanie she doesn't really stand a chance as the film is all Benal's. She does a good job as the foil for his dreams and crazy antics but Benal is the star and what holds the film together. Everyone else doesn't really matter, after all most of the film is his fantasies so who's to say she isn't as well?