Monday, October 09, 2006

Movie review: The Science of Sleep

As titles go, The Science of Sleep is kind of a misnomer. It sounds like a documentary, or maybe a slightly dry family drama. Instead, it should be called The Most Charming Movie in the World, or more accurately, Le Film Plus Charmant du Monde. It's a French thing, I think--obviously, there are plenty of dark, gritty French films, but when they put their minds to being sweet and kooky, they've really got it down to, well, a science.

The ads for The Science of Sleep say that it's from the makers of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, though I'm not exactly sure how that works--it isn't a Charlie Kaufman movie, and anyway, it was made in France (though part of it is in English). There are certain similarities, mainly a preoccupation with the workings of the human brain, but The Science of Sleep is less complex, less strange in a lot of ways, and less of a comment on human relationships in general. It's probably not as good a movie, actually, if we're going by the technical standards of good moviedom. The thing is, though, that the technical standards don't really matter here--even if it's a little lighter, TSoS is a movie you want to watch. It's lovable. It's funny and friendly, and the characters are complex, but they're people you want to hang out with. The whole thing turns out more like Amelie than Eternal Sunshine, I think. And for that, it gets many, many points.

The basic story of The Science of Sleep is that of a Mexican expat living in Paris, of his dreams and his relationship with the woman living next door. It's about growing up and taking responsibility for yourself, with forays into self-doubt, arts and crafts, disappointment, silly gifts, passive-aggressive behavior, crushes, forgiveness, and--of course--the subconscious. There is also a stuffed horse involved. The utterly adorable Gael Garcia Bernal stars, and shows that he can actually act while also looking nice onscreen. The dream sequences are spot-on in capturing the weird balance of changeability, familiarity, and nonsense we find in our dreams, and the dream/reality set-up is surprisingly easy to follow. It all comes together to make a sweet, slightly silly, slightly sad, and just generally extremely charming movie.

I say: go see it. You'll like it.

1 comment:

Cin said...

It was great to meet you Liz! Ronda and I have this on our list of movies to see, we are great fans of Gael, liked him especially in Motorcycle Diaries, I was a little worried about this film though, the trailer didn't sell it for me so it's good to read your positive review!