The Science of Sleep: Gondry at His Imaginative Best

The Science of Sleep: Gondry at His Imaginative Best

Michael Hogan

The new film from director Michel Gondry, The Science of Sleep, is a fantastic visual experience. Much like Gondry’s last film, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, this film is a mixture of romance, quirky comedy, and fantasy with a Burtonesque feel to it.

Gael Garcia Bernal (Amores Perros, The Motorcycle Diaries) plays Stephane, an overly creative artist whose dreams often invade his real life. Stephane returns to Paris following his father’s death and takes a job as a copy setter at a calendar company. Stephane expects a creative job in where he will be able to publish his latest work. It is a calendar called “Disiaterology” in which each month of the calendar features a colorful illustration of a different global disaster that took place in that month.

In actuality, the job is nothing but cutting and pasting, not at all the creative environment Stephane had hoped for. The monotony of the job, one his mother falsely said would allow him to display his creativity, gets to Stephane and his imaginative dreams begin to take over.

His dreams, which are featured on “Stephane TV” a television show on dreams that Stephane himself hosts (in his dreams, of course), are filled with wondrous images including a tarantula made of an electric razor, water made of cellophane, and a stuffed pony flying through the sky. Charlotte Gainsbourough (21 Grams, Lemming) plays Stephanie, an equally imaginative woman who moves in next door and the eventual object of Stephane’s affection. An awkward but visually stunning courtship is embarked on and we, the viewers, are taken along for the ride.

The script, written by Gondry, is smart and dryly funny at times. Gondry’s wry wit is weaved throughout the script with flawless precision and the cast plays it perfectly. One moment it is making you want to cry and the next it is splitting your sides. Despite the near perfect portrayals of Bernal, Gainsbourough, and others it is the visual adventure that makes this film a must see.

Stop motion animation and Gondry’s twisted imagination are used to create many of the incredible dream sequences, some that will leave you rushing to your own bed in hopes that they may appear again in your own dreams. Set in Paris, a portion of the film is in French with English subtitles. The visual amazement makes up for whatever hassle reading a few lines of English may cause.