Science Of Sleep, The (2006)
Hmmm, risk being bitten by a creepy razor, or have 5 o'clock shadow...
Genre: Comedy Drama Fantasy Romance (France, Italy)
Starring: Gael García Bernal (Amorres Perros; The Motorcycle Diaries) Charlotte Gainsbourg (21 Grams; My Wife Is An Actress)
Overview: A man attempts to stay in control of his life, but finds himself living more in his dreams than in reality.
I'm sure all the other actors were quite pleased with their performances and Gondry's guiding hand, not to mention the great idea of casting Gael as the lead. The only strange thing is (and strange is so subjective for this film because we're not ever sure if anything was purposely done do be out of the scrutinous eye of continuity) that in the beginning Charlotte has some trouble with her English but half-way through she's this well-spoken British accented thing. I don't know why...
Imagine my surprise when not only do I see everything I expected in the way of original visual effects and comedic stylings, but stop- motion too! It was fantastic. Not in the way that it was seamless and perfect, but in that low-budget cardboard way, but not cheap. You'll see how in-tune with the context it is (as it represents his mother's arts and crafts drawer). If you've watched many stop-motion films, you'll know that it's also very tributary to the stop-motion culture. Awesome look.
I liked trilingual side of it, with Spanish, English and French all thrown into the mix. As stories go it was simply told and hilarious, but the end goes in a direction I never would have gone as it makes it too unsympathetic to our hero. All those I was with disagreed with me, but I lost way too much respect for him. In the end everything happened as though what he said hadn't been said, so at least it didn't damage the plot too much.
I think, though I'm not sure, that half the fun is trying to figure out when he's awake, but at the same time the dream moments are super obvious... (or are they?). It's basically a love story, but in that same non-girly way as Gondry did with Eternal Sunshine. Without the dream-essence, this would be a really bland and almost lame film, but plain old romantic comedies are garbage anyways. It takes a real smarty pants to turn it into a Comedy Romance, and Gondry did it again, and quite well, thank you.
There is an awesome example here of how a passably fine film was made into a spectacular feature by purely adding elements that were completely unnecessary to the plot. We have interesting and fun inventions made by our hero and we see how he sees life all while realizing that he is trapped all too often in the tiring work that is sleeping. Without the stop-motion, the swimming through the air, the quirky inventions, this would have been just fine, but with all this creativity and original design, it becomes something really special.
Canadians will cherish the most-likely unintentional resemblance to the 80s kids show, "The Friendly Giant"
Overall Rating: 84% (There's A Science To Art Too)
It's nice when you see exactly what you expected in a good way, and I got just a little more, given my interest in stop-motion. Lesson learned: there's neat stuff you can do with the most common household items and instead of making it look cheap, it makes it look rustic cozy cool. Yeah you'll like this, it's fun.