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|Index||219 reviews in total|
This is a perfect example of a love-it-or-hate-it movie simply because its very nature means it's somewhat plot less -- we're constantly unsure if what we're seeing on the screen is really real or just in Gael Garcia Bernal's dreams, and some moviegoers abhor uncertainty, hence I think the large number of "1" votes for this flick. (Also, the film is ostensibly foreign, but moves from French to English with equal measure, with a little bit of Spanish tossed in, too. So maybe the shifts in language also irked some people, but I found it enchanting.) So don't let those low votes fool you; this is a beautiful, sublime film, and if you let yourself go onto its wavelength, you'll most likely find yourself *enjoying* the (perhaps unsolvable) visual puzzle Michel Gondry has created here. It is the quintessence of magical realism, and yet everything comes across as absolutely effortless, unlike the forced whimsy of, say, last year's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or the too-clever-by-half Adaptation. I dare say it's probably one of the best films of the year.
The Science of Sleep is most likely the best and most visionary film
playing at Sundance this year (I say most likely because I've only seen
two, but I doubt that anything can top it). Furthermore, I believe that
The Science of Sleep is one of the best and most visionary films I've
The Science of Sleep is about Stephane (Gael Garcia Bernal), a creative and naïve dreamer who moves from Mexico to his childhood home in Paris after his father's death. He takes a job at a calendar company, assuming that it will allow him to express himself creatively. Living across from Stephane is Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg), an equally creative woman. They form a relationship and as it grows, it becomes threatened by Stephane's overactive dream world, which begins creeping into his waking life.
The Science of Sleep marks the screen writing debut of director Michel Gondry. This is Gondry's third theatrical feature film, after Human Nature and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Much like last year's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, where it was unfiltered Shane Black on the screen; The Science of Sleep is pure Gondry from start to finish. This is Gondry's immense visual world unrestrained by a script by Charlie Kaufman, and this world of fancy and imagination is where the film flourishes.
The title sequence is set to the image of spin art (think back to the days of your school carnival) as we enter Stephane's active dream world. The paint layers upon itself as the colors stretch further and further outward, while we hear Stephane dreaming. This perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the film as we see bright and vibrant imagery and characters layered upon each other and pulled outward into their worlds. The magic of the sequence is broken, though, when we are immediately brought into the real world.
Stephane's real life is as banal and mundane as anyone could imagine. As an artist, he feels suffocated in a job where he "glues in a basement all day." In his own time, he creates inventions such as 3D glasses for real life ("Isn't real life already in 3D?" asks Stephanie) or one second time machines. His indomitable creative spirit is what he finds mirrored in the equally creative, yet more realistically centered Stephanie.
In direct contrast is Stephane's dream world. It is outlandish, beautiful, and unrestrained. It is in these sequences when Gondry takes flight. The sequences are filled with so much eye candy it is difficult to take in. They range from the absurd (a spider typewriter), to the grand (an entire cardboard city), or to the beautiful (a cloth horseback ride to a boat on a sea of cellophane). What makes the sequences all the more incredible is that, for the most part, he relies only on practical effects. Also remarkable is the way that the dream world represents the film's reality. The film is so very aware of itself and its intentions and the dream sequences utilize that knowledge to the full extent. As the dreams begin to invade the real world, this knowledge becomes even more vital. Gondry's meticulous attention to detail is a benefit, seeing as he does not confound himself, and therefore does not confound the audience (for the most part).
It is also filled with wonderful dialogue, and it finds transcendent humor through the characters. By using truth instead of punch lines to provide the humor, Gondry adds another layer to his already versatile film. The dialogue is in French, English, and Spanish, each seamlessly interweaving with each other, much like the realities of the film interweave. There comes a point in the film where you stop realizing the language of the film is constantly changing. It comes as the three worlds represented by the language (the Spanish is who Stephane was; the English, he who is now; and the French is his dream of the future) begin to merge into Stephane's one reality.
The film truly ascends to its full potential when it arrives at such an incredibly heightened state where we have little idea if we are in reality or in a dream. It is a language of its own, and in and of itself, it is seamless.
The Science of Sleep is not simply a visual wonder of a film, either. The performances are touching and heartfelt. Gael Garcia Bernal continues to be one of the most talented actors working. His performance is filled with so much raw emotion, giving a strong emotional core to the film. I believe that without his powerful and nuanced performance, the spectacle of the film would have been too much; however, Bernal keeps it grounded in reality with a performance so truthful that the insanity happening around him seems completely believable. The same can be said of Charlotte Gainsbourg as Stephanie, as well as the myriad of supporting actors, each playing fully developed characters.
Few films ever achieve their full potential, this exceeds it. The Science of Sleep is a film that will excite you with its visual fancy, and touch you with its powerful emotion. Michel Gondry has created a film that even through the unbelievable proceedings, has so many deftly-crafted human moments. Deep down, this film is a love story. Going back to the title sequence's spin art, below all of layers being spun and pushed around run currents of human emotion which Gondry smartly anchors the film with; therefore, allowing it to soar.
it's funny to read how many people seem to be upset after having seen the film, because he was so boring for them, nearly without sense or any real plot. But what do you want of a film called "The science of dreams" (in original)? Have you ever had a dream, which really had a defined structure or felt like being the normal story of a normal day? After my opinion the film was great, simply copying the "structure" of a fantastic dream. Of course, after some minutes you won't find your way out of this chaos anymore. But that's the way it should be. Simply sitting in the cinema and no longer being able to realize, if you are still watching the film or if you have lost yourself in your own dreams. So to say, only a film for people living in two worlds, the real one and the magical one of dreaming.
I just saw this at the Sundance Film Festival and feel compelled to saw a few things about the flick. This movie is so insanely good and just plain insane at the same time. The movie follows Gael Garcia's character as he moves back to his mothers home in Paris and finds himself falling for the girl across the hall. Gael's character experiences reality through dreams and the present, creating all sorts of confusion. The movie has some of the most unique props and eccentric animation pieces I have ever seen, but would you expect anything less from Gondry (Eternal Sunshine..). This movie really can't be described in truth but holds so much potential for multiple viewings as its so full of life and visual wonders for the eyes. Gael Garcia is just perfect in this role and is fascinating in gesture and laugh out loud funny when the script allows. I think you should definitely look forward to seeing this movie when it gets a wide release, its funny, its art, its pleasure for the eyes and a puzzle for the mind.
There is no surprise in Hollywood's ignoring this film for awards and honors. None at all. This film does not speak Hollywood's language, because it speaks the language of art, not the language of money. It is brilliant. It is entertaining. It is visually hypnotic. It is insightful. These qualities cannot be found in today's blockbusters. Bernal is endearing and funny. Gainsbourg is beautiful in an intensely real light. The pace of the film is exquisite. I also had the pleasure of watching the 'Making of...' documentary on the DVD. Michel Gondry's subtle genius shines brilliantly in the interviews. The techniques employed to achieve the effects in the film are amazingly un-Hollywood. I have a new respect for French film-making. Added to the wonders of Jeunet are the wonders of Gondry. I cannot recommend this film strongly enough to anyone with a sense of humor and imagination.
This movie had a lot going for it. The art direction was incredibly fun
and creative, and overall the movie looked great and had a very unique
vision. It was cute and quirky and definitely made me laugh out loud at
times while at other times it made me feel awkward and tense in the
best possible way.
The dream sequences were fun and blended with reality in a very seamless and engaging way (though on a personal level I prefer the way dreams were portrayed in Waking Life). And while on the surface the love story was thoughtful and true (and I could even relate to it in some ways), the problem for me was that I just couldn't sympathize with Bernal's character, Stéphane. I couldn't really see where Gainsbourg's character, Stéphanie, was coming from either. While their interaction was at times endearing, I just didn't feel like I had to root for them. Still though, there was enough charm in this movie that that fact didn't ruin the movie for me.
Or, The Science of Sleep. A film that rates -very- high on the
weirdness scale as it tells the story of a man that has trouble keeping
reality and dreamworld apart. It starts when he moves back to France to
live with his mother after his father passes away. The rest of his
story is a fairly normal one, just the way it is played out is rather
This film had me watching it open mouthed for most of the time. From the very start of it to the very end. In fact, I might have had my mouth open from the moment it started - I didn't realize it until about halfway through. The astonishment and pleasure on my end started with the very first shots - the way things got depicted and worked out. A film that is as much a film as a true piece of art.
I can do nothing other than rating this one very highly. It is like a dream but also like reality and it explains its title and theme very clearly. Acting is good enough and the music choice is very fitting. All in all, very worthwhile material.
9 out of 10 fuzzy dreams
This film is beautiful, intricate, fun - all at the same time. It hits
the mind and pulls the heart strings on so many levels - while still
managing to make a whole cinema audience laugh loudly, frequently and
unreservedly. Michel Gondry has created something really wonderful
here, the kind of film worth seeing again and again.
The Science of Sleep is trying to do something quite different to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but there's definitely something of the same feel. Certainly the level of exquisite artistry is comparable, but maybe it's also the amount of care and sincerity that has been invested in the inner lives of the film's characters.
This director/writer never sells anyone short, say, by using a character or situation just as a plot or artistic device. Instead the characters' growth and flow of ideas are what build the story, always treated with a touch that is loyal and genuine. You begin to feel loyal to them yourself, to have a sense of them as very real people in whose ultimate well-being you have a very involving stake.
That's all I really need say about the film, though I'd point out that the few negative comments I've seen below really weren't worth reading. Reservations I can understand (as everyone's different, right?) but these naysayers are clearly emotionally, intellectually and artistically stunted. Most likely they can't comprehend a work that doesn't fit their prescribed and limited framework for film appreciation - the sort which demands that progression be made through exactly the crude plot and character devisings which this film avoids. In fact, I don't think the Science of Sleep even studiously avoids them - it is simply a mile above such considerations. The film works on every level - and if you're even halfway to normal with your own emotional development you'll get what's good about this.
THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP (Michael Gondry - France/Italy 2006).
There's something magical about this wonderfully sweet romantic fantasy by Michael Gondry. A love story, emotionally rich with dazzling dream-like visuals, done the old-fashioned way with simple stop-motion animation techniques. We see Stéphane flying above his cardboard imagination of Paris and later, we see him sitting in the bathtub full of silver cellophane. It's Gondry's first film as writer-director after a two-feature partnership with Philip Kaufman. Not surprisingly, it feels a bit Kaufmanesque, as Gondry's previous "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", but now dreams have replaced memory.
Stéphane can hardly make the distinction between his own dreamworld and the outside reality and doesn't know a whole lot about love. For no apparent reason he lies to Stéphanie that he lives next door to her, which results in some comic situations. He also wants to be an inventor and so he gives her his 3-D glasses, 'but the world is already in 3-D', she replies. He is a man-child, unable to adjust himself to the everyday realities of the outside world.
Ultimately the relationship between Stéphane and Stéphanie ends in a kind of stalemate, and so does the film itself. How do you end a film? With most films I can't wait till it's over, but here it seemed like the last twenty minutes got lost in the editing room. A very abrupt ending. The film might have a bit of an unsatisfying resolution, but Gondry creates magic here. It's the dreamworld that makes this rise above the level of just another romantic comedy, and it's funny, very funny. The breathtaking stop-motion animation is a feast for the eye and the sets and creations are wonderful to look at. The film had me in a permanent smile.
Camera Obscura --- 8/10
Michel Gondry, the visually creative giant behind some of MTV's most
stylistically innovative music videos, and more recently the driving
force behind his and script writer extraordinare Charlie Kaufman's
brilliant Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, finally makes his
solitary debut, choosing to write and direct this surrealist tale of
dreams, reality, and the lines some people walk between them. Fans of
the visual virtuoso must have been anticipating Gondry's official
declaration as auteur for some time, having salivated for a decade now
as this French director continually pushed the envelope for lucky
I'm sure many saw The Science of Sleep as a proving ground that would help fans see if the eccentric director would be able to parlay all of these visually creative aspects into a more cohesive, cinematic experience. By and large, the dangerously imaginative movie succeeds on it's own, though there are a few discrepancies to note. First, it does feel that much of the way the movie is shot, in particular the scenes which stay most grounded in reality, do mimic a lot of the production values that gave Eternal Sunshine such a realistically detached value to it. Ditto with much of the stream-of-consciousness script, at times heavily emulating the flow Gondry and Kaufman helped pioneer the first time around. The actual plot is decidedly low-key, and for good reason, though at times Gondry does struggle to fill all of his microcosms with relevance. To say these values remain derivative and do not completely complement the whimsically dark storytelling taking place here though, would be to forsake the fantastic and singular joy that the Science of Sleep is.
Regardless of it's constant French avant-garde noodling, and despite the obvious parallels to Gondry's previous film, Science remains a near-masterwork, punctuated by the intoxicating rhythm of it's perceptive dream sequences, often edited with the most keen of intentions. Whether viewers will stay immersed throughout the fantasy bleed-in will be up to ones subjective threshold, and ones ability to thrive off of the magically deranged pacing that hints at underlying psychological relevance. Gondry's masterful pacing does not disappoint, culminating with the brilliant evolution of the script's supremely playful tone into something much more serious.
Of course, the sincere material would only be at home when recited by actors of a pure heart, and in this Gondry also excels by casting two leads who do everything they can to involve us in the realist fantasy. Gael García Bernal, always doing well to pick good material, finally slips into an English language role with the ease I would expect, and the luminous yet subdued Charlotte Gainsbourg radiates the earthly kind of magic that this film is all about. People with strict objective agendas stay clear, anyone else who still uses an inkling of their imagination, please dive in. It may not be perfect, but Science is surely one of the most unique and perceptive fantasies to merge with the mass consciousness in years.
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