I saw a free screening of Michel Gondry's The Science of Sleep tonight and it wasn't what I expected. I went in thinking I'd say, "This is a great date movie-sweet and romantic but visually compelling and artfully done." Instead I came out remembering every moment where I couldn't express myself-that mix of sadness, impotence and shame.
The previews for the movie misrepresent it a little bit. It is about Stephane trying to win his neighbor over, but that's just a part of the bigger story-Stephane trying to reconcile his fantasy world with the real world. He can't distinguish and you see the world through his eyes. So you get incredible moments of visual madness (which are heavily featured in the previews) interspersed with the people around Stephane offering him advice on how to deal with the real world. Only Stephane isn't interested in understanding the real world. He wants the real world to accept his fantasies. It's not said but he's vaguely autistic and the film is really a portrait of the people around him trying to survive being in love with him.
The movie is beautiful and artfully done. Gondry is a visual genius and a good directer. The movie's quiet, subtle, even funny, but the sadness and despair that surrounds Stephane grows until it eventually dominates the film. So it's not a "date movie" but it is a very good movie. It's different and it's strange. If you want a film that's quality and uplifting, see Little Miss Sunshine. If you want a film that's quality and special, see The Science of Sleep.
*** of ****