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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In dreams
Every person has vivid dreams -- so vivid that when they wake, it's hard to tell what's real and what was just in your dream.

And Michel Gondry, the genius behind "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," is just the director to tackle a movie about those dreams. Peppered with some of the weirdest scenes imaginable, Gondry guides this bizarre, sublime little...
Published on October 20, 2006 by E. A Solinas

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The film fell short
I was initially charmed by the premise that the main character, Stephan, could not tell if he was awake or dreaming a lot of the time. I loved the style of animation used to portray his dreams and whimsical personality. However the film does less well developing the relationship between Stephan and Stephanie which is the heart of the story. Although their "inner...
Published on May 31, 2007 by Victek


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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In dreams, October 20, 2006
Every person has vivid dreams -- so vivid that when they wake, it's hard to tell what's real and what was just in your dream.

And Michel Gondry, the genius behind "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," is just the director to tackle a movie about those dreams. Peppered with some of the weirdest scenes imaginable, Gondry guides this bizarre, sublime little movie to heights that most directors couldn't even dream of. (Pun intended)

Stéphane Miroux (Gael García Bernal) is a creative young dreamer from Mexico, who is lured back to Paris to live with his widowed mother. Unfortunately, the job she gets him is dull and creativity-free -- making calendars. The only upside is Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a young woman who has moved into the same building.

Though he is initially attracted to her roommate, he soon finds that it is Stephanie he likes. Their involvement starts off well, but soon Stéphane has bungled things. He becomes increasingly wrapped up in his bizarre dreams, which are encroaching on his view of "reality." Will reality or dreams triumph, and will Stéphane be won over by love?

With a movie like "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" under his belt, it must be hard for Gondry to try to surpass himself. And while "Science of Sleep" is another exploration of the mind, it's a radically different kind of movie -- visual, quirky, and with a bittersweet edge. It has some disjointed moments, and it's not nearly as accessable, but the overall effect is like one long dream.

In a way, this movie is about escaping reality, into the labyrinth of your mind -- it might make you feel better for awhile, but ultimately it won't solve your problems, or improve your life. And to find love, you have to face the pain of reality. By the finale, some measure of peace is attained -- but still its meaning is utterly ambiguous. The viewer can decide what happens.

For the visuals, Gondry falls back on his music-video past. His music videos for the White Stripes, Bjork and Chemical Brothers were all wonderfully strange, and this movie is full of kittycat suits, enormous hands, and other magical items that seem plucked from a child's whimsical daydream. Even the mundane surroundings are colourful and striking.

Bernal plays a difficult character -- let's face it, Stéphane is rather strange, with a child's wonder and selfishness. But through glimpses into Stéphane's mind, Gondry creates sympathy for his awkwardness and creativity, and his yearning for love. The scenes where Stéphane and Stephanie (similar names for similar people) make things together has a curiously innocent intimacy.

Whimsical and almost hallucinogenic, "The Science of Sleep" is one of the most unique and compelling movies of the last year. It's not as accessable as his prior films, but it has its own bizarre charm.
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51 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life is like a dream. Literally., October 13, 2006
The Science of Sleep isn't an easy movie. Not at first, at least. I begins a bit self-consciously and then creeps up on you, drawing you into the strange, unsettling worlds of the subconscious and then playing tricks with the viewer about the sometimes subtle differences between dreams and reality. I found myself in strangely familiar terrain, thinking back to my first love and the sadness, joy, wonder, insecurity, and, finally, pain over what was never meant to be. The moments of private craziness and creativity. The magic of that emotional bond on young hearts. Flipping back and forth between the mainly realistic and the sensationalistically bizarre, The Science of Sleep is a meditation on the human mind and heart.

I loved Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It's probably my favorite movie. The Science of Sleep causes the same emotions to well up inside me; it's a similar, but unique meditation on the familiar theme of who we are, why we love, and the strange magic of human relationships.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The brain is the most complex thing in the universe! And it's behind the nose.", March 14, 2007
By 
Bart King (Portland, Oregon) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Science of Sleep (DVD)
I quite liked "La Science des Ręves." Its whimsy, acting, and design are all worthy of admiration. Particularly enjoyable is director Michel Gondry's various delightful and low-tech sets and special effects. At its best moments, the movie resembles the work of a prodigiously talented film student; it has that mix of unbridled creativity, innocence, and yes, even an endearing pretentiousness.

And yet as soon as the film was over, I felt disappointed. It seemed to me that perhaps TOO much thought went into the movie's design, leaving the story somwehat malnourished. As the film is mostly in the form of a dream, this may seem like a nonsensical criticism, so let me amend my criticism; Stephane (played by the gifted Gael García Bernal) comes across as eccentric, perhaps even mentally ill. Fine, fine. But in the end, he also convinces us that he is infantile, and perhaps even irredeemably creepy and less interesting than we thought.

Roll credits and cue disappointment. Let me reiterate though, this is a refreshingly irrational film, and quite fascinating on its own terms.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The film fell short, May 31, 2007
This review is from: The Science of Sleep (DVD)
I was initially charmed by the premise that the main character, Stephan, could not tell if he was awake or dreaming a lot of the time. I loved the style of animation used to portray his dreams and whimsical personality. However the film does less well developing the relationship between Stephan and Stephanie which is the heart of the story. Although their "inner children" are kindred souls neither one seems to have the maturity to sustain a relationship. Stephan is so needy he virtually throws himself at Stephanie. The movie helps us understand him by alluding to the death of Stephan's father and alienation from his mother. On the other hand we don't learn much about Stephanie. Is she ambivalent because she's been hurt in the past? Is she wary of Stephan's neediness, or should we take her statement that she simply "doesn't want a boyfriend" at face value? We don't know what makes her tick, and she seems quite passive and reactive.

I count myself among the many who hope for a happy ending when they see a romantic comedy. If I can't have a happy ending I at least want a clear ending, but I got neither. The confusion and uncertainty that plagued these characters all through the film remains unresolved. It appears that even the film makers could not make a commitment to these characters. Frustrating!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's Real and What's Imagined?, January 10, 2007
By 
Leslie Halpern (Central Florida, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
In writer-director Michel Gondry's new film, "The Science of Sleep" he compares the sleep cycle to an internal television station in which the dreamer is host and star of every show. Welcome to Stephane TV where a cooking show combines memories, reminiscences, relationships, and a pinch of "other kinds of ships" in a large mixing bowl to produce a tasty blend of Stephane's dream life.

In this mind-boggling romance, man-child Stephane (Gael Garcia Bernal) finds the woman of his dreams (literally). An artist and inventor stuck in a menial job with obnoxious co-workers, Stephane finds his alter ego in next-door neighbor Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg).

By constantly confusing his dream world with his waking life, however, Stephane runs the risk of permanently losing his tentative grasp of reality. Similar in subject and style to dream movies such as Waking Life, Vanilla Sky, Monkeybone, and more specifically Gondry's, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (Widescreen Edition) this imaginative film packs lots of entertainment, style, meaning, and, of course, emotion into a seemingly endless series of dazzling dream sequences.

Leslie Halpern, author of Dreams on Film: The Cinematic Struggle Between Art and Science and Reel Romance: The Lovers' Guide to the 100 Best Date Movies.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem but, perhaps not for everyone, October 13, 2007
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This review is from: The Science of Sleep (DVD)
This movie completely captured my imagination and took me back to a place of youth and innocence, first love and not knowing the "right" move. I've read the other mostly positive reviews and agree wholeheartedly. Those who are less impressed are perhaps into a different type of movie. Since I don't require "perfection" in a movie or much else, I'm rarely disappointed. Movies are for me primarily an escape, a journey, an entertainment - and this movie is pure enchantment. If you fall under its spell you are probably still in touch with that innocence you once had. I loved the elementary-school sets - full of egg-crates and paper tubes. I hope most viewers agree that the world has a big star in Gael Garcia Bernal - barely 30 and a major talent. He seems to more easily slip into this not-quite-mature role than his other heavier ones - giving me the impression that this character is closer to the real Bernal. And I thought Charlotte Gainsborough was the exact "sane" character that Bernals' flighty one needed. The ending alone gave me some discomfort - being slightly indefinite to me. Try it, you'll likely like it!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky and Imaginative; Not for Everyone, March 18, 2007
This review is from: The Science of Sleep (DVD)
Recently I saw The Science of Sleep (2006), written and directed by Michel Gondry, and enjoyed this film more so because of Gondry's imaginative and quirky directing than anything else. The acting, especially Gael Garcia Bernal as Stephane, was good, but Gondry's style surpassed all of my expectations (which were high, considering I loved Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).

Gondry meticulously and flawlessly used common objects strangely placed to construct a bizarre story of love and growing up. He is unlike any director in his creative and child-like way of making innate objects come alive - this is particularly apparent from the props used in Stephane's dreams. For example, Stephane's dreams come alive for the viewer as we watch him on his very own TV Program, "Stephane TV," in his own dreamlike production studio lined with egg crates. It becomes difficult to distinguish the difference between Stephane's fantasies, or dreams, and his own reality - in one dream, he and Stephanie, his love interest, are dressed like kittens, and in another, he has huge hands (made out of paper mache) in an otherwise normal setting in which he tries to capture his coworkers. Stephane escapes his troubled reality by entering his dream world in which anything-and everything- is possible.

I think that the viewer's difficulty to discern whether or not Stephane is experiencing real life or dreaming was intended by Gondry, because Stephane is having the same difficulty as us; we are right there with him as he adventures into the unknown world of dreams. He is portrayed as childlike throughout the entire film as his vivid imagination seen in his dreams accompanies him into real life. He is obsessed with creating things for "Stephane TV," and this hobby adds to the confusion of what is real and what isn't. He says "Distraction is an obstruction to the construction," and it's like his dreams are distracting him from his life and making it easier for him to continue distorting his own reality.

This movie was surreal and made me think a lot about how our dreams are our way of clinging to the imagination we had as children. As we grow older we experience life and discover the bitter reality of routines-we accept things instead of question them because we know better. We are not as inclined to explore the details of mundane objects because we only see them as mundane. Stephane uses his imagination to make these everyday objects-such as a stuffed horse on which he rides in one of his dreams-part of his fantasy world. And thus, we are thrown into his fantasy and forced to question in our minds the reality of the situation. It is perfect because Stephane has moved back into his childhood bedroom after his father dies and it is like he is travelling back into his childhood but experiencing it as an adult.

The soundtrack to this film was very fitting - it is dreamlike - the music is reminiscent of a mobile you would hang over a crib to lure a baby to sleep. It really helped the viewer to get into and ready for "Stephane TV." This movie was good because it allowed me to embrace - and construct - my own visions of fantasy and reality. In dreams, these visions co-exist. In most of our adult lives, we know the difference. We almost take ourselves too seriously. Stephane, however, was able to really thrive in his dreamworld, so much that his illusions and perceptions of reality were thrown off. This usually had a negative effect on his relationships with other people because they wrote him off as a childlike dreamer. Stephanie understood him and therefore got whisked away in his imagination.

The Science of Sleep is not for everyone. Likely, many viewers will become confused and frustrated as they try to understand Stephane's dreams and make sense of the film's shifting illusions into fantasy and reality. I really enjoyed this film because it was definitely original - Gondry is truly one that "thinks outside the box," and he is able to pull it off through his obsession with details - these very details are the ones that cloud our judgment of reality in the film. The Science of Sleep was carefully planned and well executed. I was glad to have seen it, and I've thought about how my dreams reflect and coincide with my reality every day since.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inter-esting!, March 3, 2007
This review is from: The Science of Sleep (DVD)
If I had not already seen "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," I probably would go ahead and give this film 5 stars...however, director Gondry's "Science of Sleep" is just not quite as good.

There are a lot more self-indulgent dead spots in this one, like during some of the dream sequences when the Bernal character (Stephan) fantasizes about taking over his office and tosses his boss out the window. All the cardboard animation (something perhaps fortunately missing from the previous film) gets a bit overdone and tiring after a while, I was sorely tempted to fast forward through some of it. I know the arts and crafts story element is supposed to work as a metaphor for the human imagination, but it did seem to get a little redundant at times.

Still, I was glad that I rented this film. Gael Garcia Bernal and Charlotte Gainsborough, the two main leads, are always a pleasure to watch and in this film they are supported by a strong cast---particularly the neanderthal co-worker Guy. The camera work is quite interesting, a lot of unusual angles here. I could easily imagine myself liking this film more and more the more times I watch it...

If only Gondry had had a stronger-armed producer who could've trimmed off more of the fat, this might have equalled its predecessor, "Eternal Sunshine."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A forest in a boat, June 6, 2007
This review is from: The Science of Sleep (DVD)
Now, this is a how a romantic, dramatic, whimsical and tragic comedy should be--twisting from one to the next without notice...enough reason that we retain our sanity, but too little to truly understand.

It's become a little tired, using dreams in movies as juxtapositions between our realities and fantasies. And surrealism can quickly lose touch so that human elements and all their attendant emotions fade in the blender of what might be. But fiction is above all What is and Might be, and too little of the first and you've escaped beyond your capacity to relate, and too little of the last, and you've gone nowhere.

The Science of Sleep does the middle bear thing in a very big and touching way. It straddles not just realism, but other lines that, while stark in lesser movies, blur into the personal constructions they happen to be in the realities we create. Love or lust, and how to tell between them, Longing and Dreading, and how one can lead to the other without fully inhabiting it.

Above all, it is a tremendously sad movie. And in this way, despite the twisted reality it creates, the movie is realism defined.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Work of Art, February 9, 2007
By 
Chris Howard (Metairie, LA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Science of Sleep (DVD)
The Science of Sleep is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. Just finished watching it for the first time. It is the masterpiece of Michael Gondry, director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It is literally a work of art. The closest thing I have seen to it is Mirrormask, directed by Dave McKean.

The Science of Sleep is the story of Stephane Miroux. Stephane confuses his dreams with reality. He cannot tell which is which. Languages are constantly switched throughout the movie from Spanish to English to French. The movie takes place in France. Stephane falls in love with his neighbor, Stephanie, who lives in his apartment complex. She is one of the few people in his life who understand him to an extent. She is a creative type and is an artist, which attracts Stephane. Rather than mock him, she works with him in his dream worlds; creates with him; brings imagination to life.

Gondry shows us one of the most human movies I have seen in years. It is heartbreaking, heartwarming, charming, witty, and most of all imaginative. Gondry shows us what it is like to be Stephane. We experience this film from Stephane's eyes and his point of view, which is far from the "normal" point of view. But what is the normal point of view? Stephane's world seems very attractive to the viewer, but Gondry shows us that while it may look like an exciting way of viewing life, it is really a curse at times. Stephane's strongest and weakest points spring from his illness.

Why this movie wasn't nominated for any awards I don't know. As I said before, it is filmed beautifully, the art direction is beyond superb, Gael Garcia Bernal gives a wonderful performance as Stephane, and it is the first look (though it may be an exaggerated look) into mental illness that I have seen portrayed so humanly and so directly behind the eyes of a person. I highly recommend this film to everyone. May be a little artsy for some, but for people who like indie-type flicks, you'll love this one.
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The Science of Sleep
The Science of Sleep by Michel Gondry (DVD - 2007)
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