Thought of the Day

I don't believe in morality, but I believe in ethical conduct as set out by His Holiness the Dalai Lama: "Ethical conduct = a way of behaving that respects others’ right to be happy".

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

stephane & stephanie

the science of sleep
science des rêves)

directed by michel gondry
written by michel gondry
main cast:
stéphane miroux: gael garcía bernal
stéphanie: charlotte gainsbourg
soundtrack: white strips
year: 2007

language: english, french, spanish

since it is a film of images and imagery, have a look at the trailer instead of reading the plot.

"tonight i am going to show you how dreams are prepared: love friendships relationships and all those ships."

i watched this special film in a special venue: the electric cinema in portobello market (in the heart of quirky notting hill). i could not believe that in five years (or better, 4 years, 9 months and 27 days) i had never been to this unique place. it was a funky experience: a bar inside the main theatre offered drinks and food that can be comfortably consumed at your cosy seat: an armchair accessorised with a stool to rest your proved legs. not only, in the back rows armchairs become beds!

the science of sleep depicted the visionary world of the childish, sensitive and imaginative stephan (gael garcia bernal) and his new life in an alien paris where the introvert and creative stephanie (charlotte gainsbourg) also lives. despite coming from a french mother, stephan grew up in mexico with his mexican father and, only after this latter's death, he agreed to come back to france. stephane's life is heavily determined by his dreams and, when he meets his perfect match (stephanie), he thinks that she can empathise with his weird mind and decides to introduce her to his wacky world. the original title of the film is in fact the science of *dreams* and not *sleep*, although it could be argued that the two are closely related - this is particular transparent in languages such as spanish, where the word is the same (sueño), and italian, where sonno and sogno are heavily allitterated.

quirky set design, funky costumes, visual puns, chunky object animation (including floating clouds, cardbox objects), distorted perspectives and outrageously incongruous landscape vistas are an extension of gondry's imagination. let me remind that gondry directed the oscar-winning film - for best original screenplay: the eternal sunshine of a spotless mind. in an interview, the director admitted (in my own words) that this film is his most intimate creature.

defiant, lunatic and extremely funny, it challenges any expectation. its humour and hints of melancholy that pervade it entertain your mind but also your heart.

the only downside is that it was not always consistent: at times the viewer can feel lost as you don't know whether your are in his dreams or in the real paris. furthermore, i would have liked to see their relationship developed further...

on the other side, what i enjoyed most was the film's 'rudimental' shooting which conveyed a genuine and familiar (home-made) touch. in fact, "michel gondry didn't use any chroma keys in this film [...] so that they [the actors] could see it and not imagine it [the set], which gives them a different way of playing their parts"*.

*(c) imdb

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