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Dreams of a Life (2011)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Biography, Drama | 3 August 2012 (USA)
2:14 | Trailer
A filmmaker sets out to discover the life of Joyce Vincent, who died in her bedsit in North London in 2003. Her body wasn't discovered for three years, and newspaper reports offered few details of her life - not even a photograph.


Carol Morley


Carol Morley
7 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Zawe Ashton ... Joyce Vincent
Alix Luka-Cain Alix Luka-Cain ... Young Joyce
Alistair Abrahams Alistair Abrahams ... Self
Mandy Allen Mandy Allen ... Self
Prue Almond Prue Almond ... Self
Kim Bacon Kim Bacon ... Self
Daniel Roberts Daniel Roberts ... Self
William Barthorpe William Barthorpe ... Self
Alison Campsie Alison Campsie ... Self
Catherine Clarke Catherine Clarke ... Self
Michael Davies Michael Davies ... Self
Alton Edwards Alton Edwards ... Self
Jerome Everette Jerome Everette ... Self
Lynne Featherstone Lynne Featherstone ... Self (as Lynne Featherstone MP)
David Gibbs David Gibbs ... Self


A filmmaker sets out to discover the life of Joyce Vincent, who died in her bedsit in North London in 2003. Her body wasn't discovered for three years, and newspaper reports offered few details of her life - not even a photograph.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


When the police forensics team begin looking around Joyce's flat, at one point her television is seen, on top of which is a statue of a women, appearing to be made of wood. Later on in the film, when Joyce's friends begin discussing her mother, they speak over a flashback of her mother and Joyce as a young girl, the same statue can be seen on a mantelpiece in the background. See more »


Alistair Abrahams: Everyone has their secrets, she just seemed to have more than most.
See more »


Featured in Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema (2018) See more »


Midnight Train To Georgia
Performed by Cissy Houston
Written by Jim Weatherly (as James D Weatherly)
Courtesy of Smith and Co.
Published by Bibo Music Publishing Inc / Universal Publishing Ltd
See more »

User Reviews

A Troubling Tale
5 August 2012 | by SpitztheGreatSee all my reviews

At its core this is a story about a very lonely person, one that we all may know, and how she fell through the cracks of life. One character sums it up perfectly: "It's strange really, it's like she never really existed but was just a figment of our imagination. She was a story. Someone that we all just made up; partly because we just let someone disappeared and die. Someone that we all thought we cared about." A few people have mentioned that this documentary is weak because Joyce, and her story, are mundane and not remarkable." They're absolutely correct, but I see this as a strength for the documentary. Joyce, and her "friends", are not remarkable in any way. Instead, they are normal people who lived their life around someone that was almost a ghost.

It's remarkable to watch these people recite, and discover, how little they knew this woman that they considered a friend. And yet these friends, or interviewees, are the best window into Joyce's life. As the title of the film suggests it really is like Joyce only existed in a dream. Her past and future never existed and she was only a shell of a person. I was reminded strongly of the movie Inception while thinking about Joyce. Not to ruin Inception for anyone, but there's a conversation where one character says to another "I can't imagine you with all your complexity, all your perfection and imperfection. You're just a shade..." That's what Joyce was, only a shade of a real person.

If there's a lesson to take from this movie it's that we need to do a better job of keeping in contact with our friends. I don't know what happened in Joyce's life that left her to die alone, but no one should have that fate.

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Release Date:

3 August 2012 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dreams of a Life See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,085, 5 August 2012

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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