"The Science of Sleep"
Directed by Michel Gondry.
Written by Michel Gondry.
Starring Gael García Bernal, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Emma de Caunes
and Alain Chabat.
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 9/2/06
After seeing the trailer for "The Science of
Sleep" and then learning that it was directed by the same guy that
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", I knew that there was a good
chance that I should set my phaser to "wacko" before I walked into
the theater. This was a good move on my part, and the flick
was pretty good to boot.
"The Science of Sleep" takes place both in
the current real-life situation of Mexican/French son Stéphane
Miroux (Gael García Bernal) and Stéphane's mind...and, what an
active imagination he has! After he moves to Paris to be
closer to his French mom (Miou-Miou) following the death of his
father, he gets work as a typesetter for a low-budget nude calendar
maker; by night, he hangs out at his mom's apartment, where he lives
across from Stéphanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg, from
"My Wife is an Actress") and quickly takes a liking to her.
Much of Stéphane's interest in Stéphanie--as well as his anger over
his work, his sketchy French, and his future--is played out in some
pretty cool dream sequences, which frustrates some of the people
around him in real life, who wonder why Stéphane has such a hard
time taking grasp of reality.
Save for a bad final ten minutes (really,
maybe even just the last five minutes), "The Science of Sleep" is a
fun ride, cutting constantly between the real and not-so-real, as
well as between spoken English, French and Spanish (the latter two
are subtitled throughout). Bernal is such a ridiculously
awesome talent that it's a wonder he has time to NOT be working,
since everything he touches seems to turn out well...he still hasn't
made a justifiably bad move yet following his feature debut five or
six years ago. In this film, he's brilliant, at times awkward,
awkwardly funny, a straight well-comically-timed jokester and a
performer that creates empathy for his sad-sack dreamer. And
his French didn't seem nearly as bad as he makes his character
sound; by that, I mean that one gets the sense that his French might
be even better than it sounds here, but to stay in character, he
occasionally has to misspeak. The ability to work in so many
kinds of films means that we're going to get more of him in Spanish,
French (like this film) and American productions very soon, very
The rest of the cast is entertaining,
although Gainsbourg is a bit distracting only because of her awkward
look. In terms of playing a part, she's great, but something
about looking at her made me nervous, if that makes any sense.
The co-workers in the calendar shop end up populating many of
Stéphane's dream sequences, many of which are hilarious, none better
to me as the bit where Stéphane and Stéphanie try to outrun some
Keystone-like cops, ending with Stéphane trying to get away in a
cardboard car. I love seeing movies where the performers just
totally sell out to make a scene funny, especially when they are
scenes as seemingly ridiculous as the ones in this film.
"The Science of Sleep" is 80% great, no
doubt; it just doesn't end very well. Otherwise, check this
one out when it reaches theaters, hopefully soon!
Rating: $9.50 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard