The Science of Sleep (La Science des Rêves)
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After the death of his father, artist and inventor Stéphane Miroux (Gael García Bernal) leaves his home in Mexico and returns to Paris, lured by his mother’s promise of a prestigious job as a calendar illustrator. But once he arrives, he finds that the job isn’t all he expected it to be. There’s no illustration involved—just some cutting and pasting—and he works in a basement with a handful of misfits. The only bright spot in his lonely new life is his neighbor, Stéphanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a girl who’s almost as quirky as Stéphane himself. And though he originally thinks he’s attracted to her friend, Stéphane becomes more and more attracted to Stéphanie—because they understand each other. He’s just not sure how to tell her how he feels.

What Stéphane’s real life lacks in excitement, though, he more than compensates for in his dreams. According to his mother, Stéphane has a hard time separating his dreams from reality. So Stéphane lives in a world where life-sized stuffed horses run through streams made of cellophane, a world where he’s the host of his very own TV talk show—one that’s filmed right behind his eyes.

The Science of Sleep is a wildly imaginative and artistic film—one that’s full of fun animations and crazy dream sequences. But, just like Stéphane, you’ll have a hard time figuring out what’s just a dream and what’s supposed to be a part of the real-life story. In fact, it’s pretty much impossible. After a while, it’s totally perplexing—and it’s exhausting to try to keep up. At the screening that I attended, one of the viewers gave up and fell asleep—and I have a feeling that his dreams were much less confusing than the ones on the screen.

While the images in this film are pretty spectacular at times, the story gets completely lost somewhere along the way, and, when it’s over, you’ll have no clue what really happened. Unlike writer/director Michel Gondry’s 2004 hit, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, this one won’t cross over well into the mainstream.

If you’ve recently decided to quit your favorite hallucinogen cold turkey, then The Science of Sleep will take away those pesky withdrawal symptoms. If not, this fascinating but frustrating film will make your head spin. Don’t see this one without taking Dramamine first.

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