The Science of Sleep 'La Science des Reves' (2006) dir. Michel Gondry
Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Alain Chabat
Guest review by Blair Stewart
If you're juggling a lousy cut ‘n' paste job at the calendar-making firm alongside questionably stifled artistic ambitions and the terrifying prospect of love, it’s wise sometimes to seek contentment in a good night's sleep.
A personal project for wunderkind Michel Gondry and a Rosetta stone for his aesthetic, "The Science of Sleep" has Gael Garcia Bernal as Stephane, his 'lean-years' alter-ego. Returning to live in his childhood Paris flat, Stephane is a talented ‘enfant terrible’ who shirks from cold, clear reality by indulging in his vibrant dreamland of DIY cardboard cities and giant ridable paper-mache ponies(Gondry's art department must have been rolling around on the paste-splattered floor in paroxysms of joy during pre-production) to make sense of the world. Crashing headlong into his navel-gazing is his neighbour Stephanie, a fellow artist and dreamer played with winsome charm by Charlotte Gainsbourg to Garcia's snotty man-childishness. Love may exist between the dysfunctional two, but Stephane will have to leave behind his fantasy world or Stephanie is going to have to take a leap into his reckless subconscious. Rounding out the cast and stealing the show is a memorably profane performance by Alain Chabat as Stephane's dullard co-worker, Guy - the id speakerbox of Gondry's sexual hang ups.
Using the romantic-comedy as a blueprint, Gondry has handcrafted a cerebral egg-carton rocket out of the limitations of the genre to celebrate old school in-camera tricks, stop motion animation, back projection, the movie masters who inspired him and the many, many wondrous uses of cellophane. For a film this irreverent, I must end irreverently:
Question-How many Surrealists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Buy it here: The Science of Sleep