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The Science of Sleep
(La Science des Rêves)

Genre: Comedy / Drama
Rated: R
Directed by
: Michel Gondry
Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alain Chabat, Miou-Miou
Released by: Warner Independent Pictures

In Short: French director Michel Gondry blinds audiences with his own surreal brand of science in this wildly imaginative toy ride.

Being Michel Gondry
Sleeper Hit from a Spotless Mind
by Sylvie Greil

The movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" was a surreal masterpiece. If it stuck with you, it did so for its odd Charlie Kaufman-born premise—memory erasing—and topsy-turvy direction…and the charmed performances by protagonists Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. The director, well, he was just some obscure French guy. But if you’re familiar with indie pop, you may have come across some of Michel Gondry’s work on music videos, such as The White Stripes’ famous Lego characters in "Fell In Love With A Girl,” Radiohead’s “Knives Out," and Björk’s “Human Behaviour.”

“The Science of Sleep” is Gondry’s latest film and critics love to hate it. That’s because it’s whimsically French (i.e. things don’t have to make sense, dialogue is sometimes just there so the characters can hear themselves spout philosophical nonsense), wildly imaginative and irritatingly naïve. Its young stars have as much indie cred as the auteur: Gale Garcia Bernal ("Motorcycle Diaries") plays the forlorn would-be lover of Charlotte Gainsbourg, who unfortunately seems to have inherited none of her famous dad Serge's charisma.

Describing the plot would be akin to saying Marcel’s Proust’s “Swann’s Way” is about love. It’s about that, for sure, and more precisely about Stéphane, a young Mexican man (Bernal) who gets lured to Paris by his estranged mother at the prospect of starting a creative job. He’s slightly crazy, in a charming way, mixing reality and dream life, and he falls in love with Stéphanie, his equally quirky neighbor (Gainsbourg), a mousy, eccentric girl. Insanity ensues, including some of the most imaginative scenes in recent film history, of toy ponies brought to life, cotton clouds held up by musical notes, dream laboratories and a metropolis made of cardboard.

This film is loony, childish and completely self-indulgent. Imagine the Lego characters of the White Stripes video moving into John Malkovich’s head where they encounter stop-animation or claymation creatures from early 1960s and 1970s children’s TV, like Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Davey and Goliath. But in a world that promotes sameness (everybody’s on MySpace, everybody has an iPod, everybody shops at the Gap), Gondry's fantastic ride reminds you that you were once an individual, even if at times you think your head will explode from so much self-conscious silliness.


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