Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
We’ve had one great review from Vern, and we’ve seen that great trailer now, too. All I know is I want to see this. Now. It looks amazing.
Hey Harry. I haven't seen a review of Science of Sleep on the site yet, although I know you guys are jazzed about it. I thought I would weigh in, since I had the opportunity to see this at the Seattle International Film Festival a few weeks ago. Could have met Gondry as well, but I blew it. One of my friends was volunteering at the after-party thing, and she didn't know what Gondry looked like, so when he was coming in, she asked him for his pass. He responded, "Pff! This is for me...this party is for me..." and brushed her off. But hey, what do you expect, he's a French auteur director.
First of all, I am familiar with Gondry's work as a music video director and his film work, and I was already a big fan. Being a film student myself, I love directors that can do something innovative, but not simply "weird for the sake of being weird". Some of the movies that are in this vein (Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine, etc.) really do have the heart and soul of the characters and their relationships in mind when they decide to weird out the movie. Sometimes to gain a unique prespective on a familiar subject, you have to defy certain filmic standards.
Anyway, on to the film (as the talkbacker already prepare their, "just review the film already" post). I really, REALLY loved it. This was Gondry at his most unrestrained, and with a perfect cast and beautiful visuals, it was a very enjoyable film. I'll be very spolier-free and I won't give away much more than you can glean from the trailer.
Gael Garca Bernal plays Stephane, he has just returned to France from Mexico, and we see from the onset that he has a playfully schizophrenic view of reality. His dreams are so vivid and cohesive in their own way, that he can't always separate them from the real world. He has a dead end job that bores him, and the escapist fantasies he has about that are some of the best moments in the film.
He meets a new neighbor, Stephanie, and develops a severe crush on her. But we see that his apprehension goes beyond being tongue-tied, he really seems to be conflicted about how to approach the idea of this girl. As he spends more time with her, he falls more and more in love, but things get more and more complicated (as the often do in love and in screenplays). She is creative as well, and this almost makes things worse, because she can understand some of his eccentricities, but also understands how dangerously commited he is to them.
The heart of this movie is Stephane, and Bernal's performance is amazing. Even though this is a "small" movie, I would not be surprised if he receives an Oscar nod. He commits so completely to this character, it's astonishing, considering Stephane is a really difficult guy to contend with. On the one hand, he's likeable and interesting, but he is also so wrapped up in his own little world, you can imagine living next door to him and being exasperated at his antics. Gondry shows you inside his head, and so you like him. But he also shows you what it must be like to know him and NOT be inside his head, and how frustrating and confusing it must be.
The visuals in the movie are astonishing. There's a LOT of stop motion, a lot of in-camera effects. There's CGI in places, with the layering and green-screen work, but it generally feels pretty organic, which is in keeping with the spirit of the film. The way his dreams evolve as the arc of his story changes is particularly impressive, and beautiful to watch.
It's tough to really review a movie like this, because those of you have seen the trailer, or even heard about the movie in any detail, have already made up your mind. If you love this kind of thing, you will love this movie completely. If it's not your kind of thing, you'll be twisting in your chair. Like Eternal Sunshine, this is a simple love story hidden in a complicated movie about how complicated love is. If that sentence made you roll your eyes and go "How gay is that shit?", you'll hate this movie. If it sounds like your thing, you'll love it.
If you use this, call me: