The Science of Sleep

Film, Fantasy

Time Out says

Filmmakers like Michel Gondry who emerge from the fashionable worlds of commercials or music videos often face accusations that their films drown in flashy visual tricks and only paddle ankle-deep in real human emotion. But, in this warm, smart and crazy oddity, Gondry is up to his neck in love-hearts (note the Valentine’s release) – even more so now that he’s swimming without Charlie Kaufman, writer of his last two films. That said, there are distinct similarities between Jim Carrey’s romantically forlorn character in ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ and Gael García Bernal’s Stéphane, an affable half-Mexican who returns to an empty Paris apartment after his father’s death in search of love and a job. He quickly finds the first – at an unorthodox graphic-design firm where he can indulge his appetite for drawing horrible disasters – but stumbles in his hunt for the latter, even after fixing his affections on his neighbour Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg).

Gondry’s trick is to make us privy to Stéphane’s dreams – which increasingly blur into the real world – at a time of grief and vulnerability, brilliantly indulging a wacky realm of stop-motion animation and impressionistic set-design where Cellophane runs out of taps and lovers gallop across cartoon plains on horses made of felt. Bernal gives one of his warmest performances: we’re back to the light, cheeky territory of ‘Y Tu Mamá También’, but without the grating naivety. Like most dreams, the film is all-encompassing and often powerful in the moment, but quickly fades when you wake up, leaving you wondering what Gondry’s decision to fuse Stéphane’s reality with his dreams actually allows beyond a flush of heady romance and wild imagination. Still, in the moment, Gondry and Bernal almost manage to give quirky a good name.

By: Dave Calhoun



Release details

Release date:
Friday February 16 2007
106 mins

Cast and crew

Michel Gondry
Michel Gondry
Gael García Bernal
Charlotte Gainsbourg
Alain Chabat
Emma de Caunes
Sacha Bourdo
Aurélia Petit
Pierre Vaneck
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