4 Stars Movies

Too Much Reality: Michel Gondry’s The Science of Sleep

Michel Gondry is a treasure; endlessly inventive and thankfully prolific. His music videos (especially Björk’s “Bachelorette” and The White Stripes’ “Fell in Love With a Girl“) and films (Human Nature and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) are all personal favorites, with “Bachelorette” and Eternal Sunshine especially moving me deeply.

But I found myself a tiny bit unsatisfied with The Science of Sleep, despite its flood of original imagery and enthusiastic performances. For a movie that concerns the blending of fantasy with reality, I think the problem is that there’s too much reality. Stephane (Gael García Bernal) experiences a smooth continuum between his waking and dream life, which his mother explicitly acknowleges as an actual condition, in other words, a mental illness.

In the cold light of his mother’s diagnosis and his often hurtful behavior towards his crush Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg), Stephane is less of a charmingly eccentric dreamer, and rather a sad case that could probably not have a successful relationship without medication.

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