Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

The Science of Sleep

The Science of Sleep
Charlotte Gainsbourg, Gael Garcia Bernal, Miou-Miou, Alain Chabat, Pierre Vaneck, Sacha Bourdo

Rated: R 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: September 22, 2006 Released by: Warner Brothers

Another strange love story comes from the cunningly whimsical Frenchman Michel Gondry starring Gael Garcia Bernal (The Motorcycle Diaries, Y Tu Mama Tambien).

The Science of Sleep is surreal, written by former video/commercial director Gondry goes pretty deep in objectifying the distortion of reality.

Subconsciousness has occupied so much time in the life of Stephane (Bernal). When his father in Mexico passes away, he takes residence with his mother (Miou-Miou). His work is a type-setter, very jejune, but with eccentric co-workers and boss (Pierre Vaneck)

The chief stimulus for Gondry's atypical, if artistic imaginative process is Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg of 21 Grams). This young woman, who lives across the hall from Stephane, is hard to resist for our dreamy, if childish hero.

It's difficult for them to bond at first when Stephanie sees that Stephane has eyes for her friend Zoe (Emma de Caunes). Is there something in Stephane's dreamscape that can overcome his real world liabilities?

One might get the sense here that Gondry has time-warped into the era idolized by Adam Sandler - the 80's. His visual pizzazz is as textured and colorful as ever, using stop-motion animation, among other non-CGI techniques. The zaniness heightens Stephane's outrageous creative efforts to allure Stephanie. The take off into his mind is based from a construct primarily of cardboard and cellophane.

While The Science of Sleep doesn't have Charlie Kaufman intelligently serving Gondry as in the emotionally resonant Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, one can grasp the rush stimulating the mind, even with a far more elemental concept.

The touches on situations and places can be funny and rather fanciful, as the subconscious is the surrogate to capturing a true lifelong partner. Underneath all of the confusion is the fact that good and bad can come from all of the genuine desire.

Bernal has, in a rather short time, proven himself a very versatile performer, and is at ease for engaging effect. Especially, opposite the piquant Gainsbourg, whose Stephanie gradually lets down her guard. Their characters zestfully interact even if one doesn't see Stephane in the way he would prefer to be regarded.

The offbeat characters add to a confection that doesn't waste time as Gondry is able to pack this pinata of a party with an unusual rhythm into the state of somnolence.

  Frank Chris Tony Jim Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
The Science of Sleep       B       B

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