Stéphane (Gael García Bernal), an illustrator moves back to Paris for a new job and to live in his mother's apartment. There, he experiences strange and intense dreams, including one relating to his one-man show, Stéphane TV. His dreaming meddles with his life and creates confusion for his love interest, Stéphanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg).
Director Michel Gondry and writer Charlie Kaufman came up with one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind. It blew me away for its union of big ideas and ingenious filmmaking with raw emotion and bittersweet comedy. This time Gondry is out on his own as writer and director with The Science Of Sleep, but he’s in similar territory.
there’s substance to go with the style
Gondry’s realisation of the fractured nature of the conscious and subsconscious is sublime.
Stephane, played by Gael Garcia Bernal, is a young graphic artist who has returned to Paris from Mexico after his father’s death. He’s a dreamer in the most literal sense of the word – his flights of fancy increasingly blur with reality.
His dreamscapes are an escape from the dull typesetting job his mother arranged for him. But they also stop him from properly connecting with Stephanie – Charlotte Gainsbourg – the next-door-neighbour who shares his eccentric interests in make-believe, altered perception and hand-made objects.
Eschewing modern CGI he achieves his most dazzling effects in camera, returning to the roots of French cinema as pioneered by the magical Georges Melies. The use of back projection, stop-motion animation and forced perspective is charming and effective.
The Science Of Sleep in parts seems artistic manifesto. But there’s substance to go with the style.
Stephane and Stephanie’s halting relationship has problems based in real life and Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg give these whimsical characters sincerity.
The movie can be seen as a joyous celebration of the power of dreams – or as one man’s slightly sad retreat from reality. Either way, it’s touching, sad and funny, and endlessly inventive.