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A SCIENCE OF SLEEP Review From Seattle!!

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:


Yeah... all that did was make me even crazier to see the damn thing. In the spirit of Wonka, allow me to indulge my inner Veruca Salt.


"Moriarty" out.

Readers Talkback
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  • July 18, 2006, 6:13 a.m. CST

    Oscar nod for Bernal? really?

    by hotsoup99

    September 22 needs to get here fast.

  • July 18, 2006, 7:27 a.m. CST


    by Barney Hood

    I like this guy writing, however this review is a bit odd. Rather more a summing up of the movie ending with a 'if you like this, you'll like it, if you don't you won't' summation... I also hate the phrase 'Oscar nod'...everyone should stop using it . Now. I look forward to this though.

  • July 18, 2006, 7:48 a.m. CST

    probably difficult to compare

    by L. Duderino

    to other movies (except Eternal Sunshine, etc), so the 'if you like this, you'll like it'-summation is fair.

  • July 18, 2006, 7:55 a.m. CST

    The problem with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

    by Forumfatale.com2 that it's just TOO good. And so, when you show it to people you like, and they don't like it or (god forbid) get bored by it, you suddenly find that you have to put your friendships into question. Can you really trust someone who doesn't like Eternal Sunshine? Can you continue to be their friend? What if it's family? What if it's your wife? Do you divorce her if she doesn't like the movie? What are you expected to do and how far should you go? I have no idea. But I do know this: don't show this film to anyone. Don't talk about it to anyone. Or else you'll regret it.

  • July 18, 2006, 7:58 a.m. CST

    stephane and stephanie?

    by DarthBakpao

    the biggest twist is that Stephanie is just a figment of Stephane's imagination...

  • July 18, 2006, 8:34 a.m. CST


    by Mechasheeva

    i'm probably going to explode with anticipation before this thing hits theatres. now to watch eternal sunshine a few dozen more times.

  • July 18, 2006, 8:36 a.m. CST

    Yea, but is it good?

    by JosephBeaner

    In comparison to Eternal Sunshine, is it good? Like most geeks, I don't typically like romance films - but Eternal Sunshine was different and just "off" enough to make it worth the watch. Does 'Sleep' have that same quality? Or is it just weird? These guys had some interesting thoughts on this film in their last podcast...

  • July 18, 2006, 10:27 a.m. CST

    I happened

    by HessenRoots

    to catch the trailer for this on Sunday (before A Scanner Darkly) and it looks great!

  • July 18, 2006, 10:30 a.m. CST

    Bernal is just an incredible talent

    by IndustryKiller

    teamed with Gondry this has winner written all over it

  • July 18, 2006, 10:31 a.m. CST


    by BatCountry

    I couldn't agree more! Thank god my wife liked it. We saw it together at an old run down theater before we were married. It was just us, and maybe like 4 other people in there. It was one of those moives that sort of defined a moment in our relationship. We have quite a few like that.

  • July 18, 2006, 11:18 a.m. CST

    How gay is that shit?

    by Kusoyaro

    Just kidding, I loved Eternal Sunshine, I loved the trailer for this, and I'm looking forward to it...

  • July 18, 2006, 12:23 p.m. CST

    I wear by ganyness on my sleeve

    by BatCountry

    It is true. Christ, I am beginning to sound like Harry. I'll be sure to pepper "delicious" in some of my future posts.

  • July 18, 2006, 12:24 p.m. CST

    "Gayness" even...

    by BatCountry

    Jesus! I type too fast for this forum. How about adding a spellchecker ;)

  • July 18, 2006, 1:46 p.m. CST


    by SlowSand

    Pretty sure "gayness" isn't in the standard spellchecker. Just a thought. This movie sounds like exactly the type of cinema I've been needing a fix of for the past few years. I'm ramped.

  • July 18, 2006, 3:33 p.m. CST


    by BadMrWonka

    thanks for the kudos. there are a few twists and turns in the movie, but giving them away would be pointless, as they shouldn't be a part of the decision-making process for going to see the film or not. the only bad thing is that I have to wait FOREVER to see this again. it's definitely one I would see a few times, mostly to catch all the funky, weird visual stuff. I feel like I missed a lot because there was so much going on.

  • July 18, 2006, 3:57 p.m. CST

    hard-to-recognize directors ...

    by Toe Jam

    i was at a hometown (omaha) event featuring alexander payne a few years ago, and i was sitting outside, waiting for a friend, when i saw none other than mr. payne himself walk up and try to enter. the oldish doorman asked him for his invitation, to which payne gave a semi-surpised look. being gracious and modest, though, he showed him the invite and walked in, not even bothering to make the doorman feel bad for not even knowing who he was. true story.

  • July 19, 2006, 9:20 a.m. CST

    Bernal Is Awesome

    by The Ender

    Motorcycle Diaries. That is all I have to say. Freaking amazing.