By Sonya Rehman
Tag line: ‘Close your eyes. Open your heart’.
Written and Directed by: Michel Gondry
Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Release date: 2006
Language: English, French and Spanish
‘La science des reves’ (‘The science of sleep’) has to be one of the most enjoyable, over-the-top, surrealist, dream-like fiction films ever made. Remember the whacked-out, hit flick, ‘Stranger than fiction’ – starring Will Ferrell?
Well ‘The science of sleep’ is just as fascinating a movie…but the only difference lies in the fact that this one seems to run on a huger dollop of randomness, in comparison to Ferrell’s flick. It’s anything by typical – from the characters to the script and to the execution, the film runs through on a very nonfigurative basis, and will manage to catch you off-guard every now and then.
The plot of ‘The science of sleep’ basically revolves around a rather ‘abstract’ protagonist, Stephane Miroux, who is a thoroughly creative young man and whose untamed imagination habitually intersperses into the ‘real world’, making his personal ‘reality’ all the more bizarre!
But the bizarre elements in the film are hardly depicted in a confusing and/or negative way, rather, in a fun, colourful and appealing way.
For instance, one particular scene – depicting Stephane’s nightmare – Stephane is shown working away in his office with enormously large hands. The dream scene is comic at best, and other surrealist elements – such as; running tap water looking like glitter, streamer paper, and cotton fluffs thrown up into an apartment’s ceiling to represent clouds – often come into play, giving the film an extremely endearing and child-like, animated feel.
Even the script itself is sprinkled with such over-the-top, random dialogue, that it’ll make you laugh out loud and smile from time to time. For instance; “You have a serious problem of distorting reality. You could sleep with the entire planet and still feel rejected”, “Distraction is an obstruction for the construction”, and the charming liner: “Everything will turn out the way you want, if you stop doubting that I love you”.
Gael Garcia Bernal – who also played the part of young Ernesto Che Guevara in ‘Motorcycle Diaries’ plays the part of the slightly spaced out ‘Stephane’ quite fittingly. He adapts to his role brilliantly well, and at times Bernal’s character seems to mirror the one he carried out in the hit (and rather raunchy) 2001 film, ‘Y Tu Mama Tambien’.
So is this a film to watch with your family? Probably not. With your spouse, friends or on your own? Preferably yes. Reason being, ‘The science of sleep’ is not your typical action-packed, drama, or romance Hollywood movie. Neither is it a whiny chick-flick.
The plot is loose. As is the script. As are the characters. Like pliable pieces of play-doh each is continuously distorted, over and over again – so much so, that it’s open for individual interpretation at each turn, at each scene.
But this is not to state that the plot is weak – far from it. One just needs to have the patience and appetite for surrealist, ‘surprise’, movies. If randomness annoys you, or makes your forehead turn into one big question mark, you’d be better off not buying/renting the DVD. But on the other hand, if surrealism rocks your boat, and if you appreciate art – even with its loopyness – chances are, you’re bound to love this baby.
Instep, The News