Following the death of his father from cancer, Stéphane - Mexican on his father's side, French on his mother's side - agrees, despite his less than proficient use of the French language, on his mother's request to move back to France from Mexico, she not only letting him live in her apartment in his old bedroom in the building she owns while she stays with her current boyfriend Gérard, a magician, but she having found him a job using his graphic art skills at a calendar shop. The job ends up not being quite as she had made it out to be - it more a dead end menial job - but Stéphane is still able to eke out a friendship of sorts with his new coworkers, especially Guy, the senior employee, a bully of a man-child who obsesses about sex and who becomes Stéphane's confidante. Concurrently, Stéphane strikes a friendship with his neighbor, Stéphanie, and her friend, Zoé, Stéphane and their friendship stemming out of some mistruths, including the two artistically inclined women not divulging ...Written by
Michel Gondry didn't use any chroma keys in this film (excepts the one you see explicitly in Stephane TV), but he screened the FX sequence (already done before the shooting with step-by-step method) behind the actors, so that they could see it and not imagine it, which gives them a different way of playing their parts. See more »
¡Un, dos, tres, cuatro!
[Stéphane plays the drums, then the piano, then moves the cameras. "Stéphane TV"]
Hi, and welcome back to another episode of "Télévision Educative". Tonight, I'll show you how dreams are prepared. People think it's a very simple and easy process but it's a bit more complicated than that. As you can see, a very delicate combination of complex ingredients is the key. First, we put in some random thoughts. And then, we add a little bit of reminiscences of the day...
[...] See more »
The French DVD edition present a alternate version of the film made of B-roll footage. See more »
Written by Jack White (as Jack White III)
Performed by The White Stripes
Peppermint Stripe Music BMI/EMI Music Publishing
By permission from Third Man Records, Inc. through exclusive license of XL Recordings and V2 Records See more »
An inventive joy with a wicked undertone
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 musicians.
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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