The Science of Sleep (2006)

Reid, 17. December 2007, 15:09

Dir. Michel Gondry
Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal (Stephane Miroux), Charlotte Gainsbourg (Stephanie), Alain Chabat (Guy), etc.

I’d be curious to see what Mitchell thought of this, as the characters have qualities that Mitchell would find very appealing. I think Kevin might also enjoy this. I could see Penny at least mildy enjoying this. I think Tony saw this, but didn’t care for it. Larri probably wouldn’t care for this.

Gondry is the one that directed, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I associate him with films by Charlie Kaufmann and Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich and Adaptation). I’m not a really big fan of those films, as I find them really clever and original in concept, but not really satisfying in overall execution–as if the films are trying to stand on cleverness alone. But for some reason, I was in the mood to see that type of quirkly, ultra-clever type of film for some reason. (The previews of Bernal with the oversized hands appealed to me.)

Initially the film felt like it would meet my expectations–the creative sequences felt self-serving, not advancing or enhancing the overall film–, but after a while I began accepting these moments. For whatever reason, I just appreciated the look and execution of these sequences. What also helped was that I gradually became interested and liked the characters, particularly Stephane, Stephanie and Guy. I cared about the film’s main story of Stephane and Stephanie being attracted to each other, but not being able to connect because of their insecurities–when one is ready to risk vulnerability, the other is not–and so they’re never quite able to connect.

To me, the acting really made this appealing to watch. I think it was a hard film to both act in and direct, just because the film moves between dream sequences and reality so often. The scenes and dialogue that Gondry uses to depict the psychological and emotional states made it a challenge, too. (I can think of an example right now.) I especially liked Gainsbourg. Her performance was so convincing and real to me–her shyness and moments when she’s more expressive. She’s an attractive actor, but also has some features (her lower jaw) give her a odd look and, maybe, a plain look. (I liked that she didn’t mind looking schlepy in this.) I want to see her in more films.

Garcia was also good in this. I liked both his comedic and dramatic moments in the film. (One moment I liked: Stepanie says over the phone, “You shouldn’t cry. Women don’t like it when men cry.” And he replies, “I know it sucks,” with a whimper, weepy voice.) Alain Chabat, as the obnoxious co-worker, was also enjoyable. (He had everything the side-kick in Art School Confidential did not.)

I guess, all in all, the creative moments in the film (the studio scene representing his mental activity) were both appealing and relevant to the overall story of the film for me, and that’s what made me enjoy this. It’s a film that’s very hard to judge because I can easily understand people liking it or hating it. It’s the type of movie that has cult quality to it.

Finally, I just want to say that I loved the scene where they’re in the cat outfits singing the song, “Rescue Me.” Garcia looks like Max in Where the Wild Things Are, and just his reaction–patting himself all over and looking shocked, when the outfit appears on him is hilarious, as is seeing him sitting plainly the drums with Alain Chabat playing the upright bass with a kind of deadpan look. I had to watch that scene several times, and it made me laugh everytime. Incidently, the song was written by a lady (kind of goofy) who tries to rescue cats, and that’s what the song is really about. (There’s a short segment in the dvd extras that has the feel of the “Pets or Meat” segmen in Roger and Me.)

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