After his sci-fi romantic comedy Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind looked at how memories can affect matters of the heart, Michel Gondry then directed The Science Of Sleep, another bittersweet rom-com, this time focusing on the world of dreams.
This feels much more like a French film than Eternal Sunshine with Gael Garcia Bernal being the only non-European cast-member and the likes of Alain Chabat (who steals every scene he's in), Charlotte Gainsbourg, Miou-Miou and Emma de Caunes forming the rest of the cast. This is something which actually works to the film's advantage since Garcia Bernal's Stephane is a bit of a fish-out-water as he moves into his mother's old apartment in Paris despite not knowing anyone or speaking French very well. Hence why Stephane constantly seeks refuge inside his dreams and through his imagination. Unfortunately, that all backfires slowly but surely as he starts to confuse his dreams with reality, which is clearly too cruel for him to handle.
Stephane gets a boring job he was expecting to be much more creative, his co-workers tease him, as does the girl he likes, and he starts to unexpectedly fall in love with his neighbour Stephanie (Gainsbourg) who may be his match in terms of imagination and playfulness but who may not feel the same way about him otherwise. It's the kind of very quirky and whimsical yet also very real relationship Gondry tends to portray really well and in a unique, creative way. In The Science Of Sleep, he uses his own brand of "arts and crafts" for the art direction as well as off-key music, somewhat juvenile dialogs and stop-motion animation to bring Stephane's dreams to life and that helps keep the film fascinating and fun throughout.
While not quite as impressive or powerful as Eternal Sunshine, The Science Of Sleep is a solid example that Michel Gondry can tell a good story using his trademark visual style without relying on a Charlie Kaufman script.
Worth checking out.