The Science of Sleep is the best movie you could dream of

By Emily Smith

Michel Gondry’s new film The Science of Sleep is now playing at the Uptown Theater in Minneapolis. More importantly, it is the single most delightful way I have ever spent two hours, $8.25, and bus fare—two nights in a row.

I was excited enough to hear that the brilliant director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind had made another film. I was even more excited to hear that it featured Gael García Bernal, who is a fantastic actor both onscreen and in my dirtiest daydreams.

The story opens with a young Mexican man named Stéphane (Bernal) moving back into the Paris apartment he lived in as a child, after his mother tricks him into taking a menial office job. He immediately realizes that the job sucks, but he is distracted by falling in love with his neighbor, played by the lovely Charlotte Gainsbourg. The love story moves along confusingly as Stéphane’s dreams are interspersed with the narrative.

The Science of Sleep is similar to Eternal Sunshine in the narrative’s intentional confusion with dream sequences, demanding that you watch it again (in my case, the next night) to figure out exactly what happens. It springs from and far surpasses Gondry’s first feature-length film.
Though the story is engaging and Bernal’s character adorable until the very end, the most fascinating aspect of The Science of Sleep was its striking visual detail. Every inch of every shot from beginning to end was absolutely beautiful. As I watched, I felt sheer awe for Gondry’s creative process and its perfect execution.

After watching the film the first night, I ended up drinking coffee and discussing it with a few MCAD students. Rather than leading to the pretentious name-dropping of other independent films to which art school and Macalester students are prone, the movie led us into an insightful examination of its plot. We tried to figure out what its vague ending meant, exactly which scenes were dreams and which were reality, and how it managed to be so beautiful the whole time. Though I abhor the analogy to the pleasant aftertaste of a good meal, it accurately describes how I felt when talking about the film.

Anyone with any appreciation for visual art, romantic stories, Bernal, or life itself will adore The Science of Sleep. It’s well-worth the trip to Uptown and the ticket money. Don’t wait for the DVD—watch Stéphane’s dreams on the big screen while you have the chance.