The Science of Sleep (R)
Gaumont (France) (USA); IMDb; Lost Highway; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Warner Bros.; Wikipedia
This is a French film that came out in 2006, but I didn't see it until 2014. I'm sure I'd read good things about it around the time it came out, maybe saw previews that looked interesting, I forget. At some point I got the DVD, but wanted to wait to watch it until after I'd seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a movie by the same direction, Michel Gondry, which had come out a couple of years before this. And I finally did see that. It would then be some months before I got around to watching this. Honestly, I had expected to like it a lot more than I did. And um, for most of the time I was watching it I was fairly sure I'd put my review under "weird," though "art" was always a possibility. Ultimately that's what I decided to go with, but I still think "weird" would have been as good a fit, if not better. I just don't know. Anyway, it's a decent movie, I guess, and I really feel sort of bad about not liking it more than I do. And I still feel like I probably like it more than the average American movie-watcher would like it. But I'm sure there are lots of people who like it a lot more than I, and my hat's off to them.
Anyway. It's about this guy named Stéphane Miroux, who had a Mexican father and a French mother. I guess they had all lived in France when Stéphane was a kid, but at some point his father went back to Mexico, and Stéphane had gone with him. His father died shortly before the start of the film, at which point Stéphane (now an adult) moves to France, to stay in an apartment in the building his mother owns. She'd told him about a job he could get at some company, but when he went there, it wasn't the kind of job he'd been led to believe. He's an artist (and an inventor), and he had this idea for a calendar, but they weren't looking for an artist. It was a much more boring and utterly uncreative job. He worked with a few people; one was a boorish guy named Guy, and there were another man named Serge and a woman named Martine, though there's really not much to say about them.
Stéphane meets a woman named Stéphanie, who lives right across from him in his building, and also her friend Zoé. There's a sort of weird thing about him thinking they don't know he's Stéphanie's neighbor, and him for no apparent reason pretending he doesn't live in the same building as her. But I don't think that's very important, just sort of weird. As I said. Also at first I think he's interested in Zoé, rather than Stéphanie, but it quickly becomes apparent that Stéphanie would be a better match for him. I can't for the life of me tell if it takes him a while to realize that or if he just pretends he doesn't realize it for some unfathomable reason. But it's not too long before he realizes it, and starts to sort of pursue her romantically, I guess. I mean, they quickly become friends, but he seems incapable of believing she'd ever be interested in him. Which I can relate to, because I'm incapable of believing anyone would ever be interested in me romantically, but he seems to take this idea to a further extreme than I would, at the same time that he's trying to win her over (which is something I can't imagine I'd ever do). So... I dunno, the whole thing confuses me and makes me uncomfortable, and a lot of the things he does seem pretty crazy, and I rather feel he doesn't deserve to be loved, even though he's basically a nice guy. Still... Stéphanie is fairly artistic, herself, so whatever other awkwardness is going on, they continue to sort of bond over an artistic project.
But what's really weird about the movie is Stéphane's dreams. I mean, dreams are naturally weird, but I'd say his are weirder than most. And more artistic. It's actually pretty neat to see some of the stuff in his dreams. And eventually, Stéphanie begins appearing in his dreams, sort of collaborating with him on designing his dreams, though of course he knows the Stéphanie in his dreams isn't the real Stéphanie. Even so, there are visual effects we see in scenes where it's relatively safe to assume he's awake, effects that would only make sense if he was dreaming. Which adds to the confusion. And Stéphane himself occasionally seems unsure if he's dreaming or awake, and scenes can shift without segue between awake and asleep, which adds yet more confusion to the film. And of course, it makes him seem even crazier.
I don't really know what else to say, except it's all interesting to look at, and I suppose it's interesting to think about. And maybe it's not quite as confusing as I make it out to be (or maybe it is). Either way, it mostly just made me uncomfortable. And I really don't know what to make of the ending. But at least I can say I'm glad to have finally seen it. And I can't imagine I'd ever watch it again.