Goundy - The Science of Sleep

Kirsten Banks 20/03/2007

Rating: 4/5

Having been familiar with French director Michel Gondry for his avant-garde work on various Beck and Bjork videos and as the man who turned The White Stripes into Lego, but I must admit I was not sure what to expect from The Science of Sleep. Not that knowing what to expect would have prepared me for the endless intoxicating colours and jolting camera angles as I was transported through the intriguing, and very comic dreams, of the slightly creepy, slightly charming, Stéphane (Gael García Bernal). The film is shot beautifully, Gondry using many techniques; stop-motion photography, puppetry, a water tap that pours streams of cellophane and a child with giant hands, all of which transform the world as we know it into a place that looks a lot more fun. Instead of self-indulgently throwing in special effects here and there just because he can, Gondry places such moments with acute comic timing and wit, which in combination with the self-deprecating character of Stéphane makes for a very original, yet humorous, film.

The Science of Sleep is not only about visual titillation however, underneath the ethereal wonderings of Gondry's camera lens is a brilliantly crafted script and narrative. The plot follows Stéphane's obsessions and worries as he pursues Stéphanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg), another artsy-type who lives in the flat opposite. What could ultimately be just another boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl romance, turns out to be a depiction of a very ambiguous and fragile love, which is further confused by Gondry never making it clear if he approves of Stéphane's behaviour or feelings for Stéphanie. The Science of Sleep also carries a great soundtrack, which in combination with Gondry's camera work results in some really stunning moments in the film. The performances by Gael García Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg are magnetic as they journey through the entire spectrum of human emotions, leaving you unsure whether to laugh or cry.