“Why do my armpits smell like… Sperm?”Review by Lewis Goodall
Dreaming is great, most of the time, obviously you get those dreams that everyone seems to get that make you glad you wake up, like the dreams where you’re falling or the ones where when you wake up, you have to instantly check you still have all your teeth left because in the dream you pulled them out. When they aren’t dreams like that you get some good ones, I had one where a fish fell in love with me, now if I was a mute then it would’ve won an oscar for best picture.
The Science of Sleep shows that were all the same when we sleep by following Stephane (Gael Garcia Bernal), a creative inventor that travels to France to visit his mum after his father passes away. He lives in an apartment complex that his mum is the landlord for and gets a job making calender’s. When Stephanie, an artist (Charlotte Gainsbourg), moves in opposite his apartment, their relationship grows through both of their creative worlds.
The Science of Sleep is written and directed by Michael Gondry, the same mind behind ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’. If you’ve seen that film then you can already tell that this is going to get weird but in the greatest way. This film starts on the set of Stephane TV, where Stephane demonstrates how the mind creates dreams through childhood memories and events that happen throughout the day. This TV show is inside Stephanes head to which we return to throughout the film to see what Stephane is thinking. The TV set is a great introduction into the style of production that we see throughout the film. Its created out of cardboard and shiny tinsel, as this Stephane runs around controlling what’s happening. Having the visual representation of how Stephane is thinking is great as we see his thoughts evolve to Include Stephanie. I feel the everyone can relate to at least on of Stephanes thoughts which is fantastic because then you really empathise with how Stephane is feeling. Plus seeing his dreams play out every night and incorporating moments from the day is relatable because we all been through it. I’ll give an example, Stephane falls asleep in the bath and in his dream he’s in a bath in his bosses office with his new colleague and they’re talking about Stephanie as she moved in that day, its stuff like that where it’s real bizarre but also relatable.
Stephanie is a sweet innocent artist who shows signs of also having feelings towards stephane so its cute to see both of their emotions play off eachother. I’ve sort of had her character tainted for me a bit because she is the main character in nymphomaniac so it’s a contrast seeing her being sweet and innocent here but also having the memory in my head of watching her getting railed by two BBC’s at the same time. Both characters feel completely separate to what I’ve seen before, they’re very uniquely written which is a nice change. The two of them have a bond right from the get go and it’s mainly shown through their mutual love of art and creativity which shines in the real world as well as within Stephanes head, an example is that their ideas become alive, they both plan to make a stop motion film including a boat that has a forest inside it, and the boat is looking for its mum, whilst doing so they are talking about using music and using that music levitate clouds and…… now’s a good as time as any to talk about the nonsense aspect of this film.
So naturally a film including dreams is bound to have it’s weird moments, but they’re in context and you know what’s happening is a dream so its acceptable. Watching a man with oversized hands fighting his colleagues as they force him to work weirdly makes sense in the context of this film so it works and it works really well. Some of the dream aspects do make their way into the real world which at the time seemed odd but writing about it now and thinking it through makes me realise that the closer he gets to stephanie and the more he falls for her. His real world starts to feel like a dream and aspects are coming to life which is beautiful. There is one aspects of weirdness in the real world that is there and I feel doesn’t really add too much to the story is the fact that Stephane makes a time machine for stephanie, but the machine can only go one second either way, into the past or into the future. It was an aspect that was a bit lost of me and felt didn’t need to be there.
Overall this seriously is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s a hard film to explain because it’s more of a visual playground that needs to be experienced. I probably haven’t sold it well but I loved it. It was seriously wholesome and sweet with watching their relationship blossom and seeing Stephane thoughts doubt themselves but also make assumptions that she loves him and just in general portray overthinking in a great way that people can relate to. Its bizarre, beautiful and actually really funny in spots which I’m remembering now as I’m thinking back, some actual laugh at loud moments, man I want to watch it again now.