Today I rewatched The Science of Sleep or La Science des rêves. I had seen it in 2006 when it was first released but not since then. It is a Michael Gondry’s third film, other notable ones include Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Green Hornet. The film stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Gael Garcia Bernal has consistently been one of my favorite actors. He is an incredibly versatile and daring actor (his role in La Mala Educacion or Bad Education really stands out in my mind). He plays a somewhat neurotic and creative man who is unable to distinguish dreams from reality and does it with an incredible subtlety that makes you believe such a person could possibly exist. While I have not seen Charlotte Gainsbourg enough to have formed an opinion about her, she does a great job in this movie as the girl next door to Gael Garcia Bernal who he falls in love with. You never know quite what she thinks or feels until the end really, and I can only imagine the amount of acting skill it took to pull off such a neutral yet interesting character as hers.
I revisited the film with a friend of mine, and his first words after the film were: “I don’t know what to think!” It is a truly difficult movie to describe. Eternal and Green Hornet were Gondry’s more linear and sensical movies. The Science of Sleep takes the viewer through a trip of the subconscious, and because we are viewing things from Bernal’s eyes, we are often confused ourselves of what is reality and what is dream. On top of that, an unusual love story is woven in that is made further complicated by the increasingly thin line between dreams and reality. As a result, it really takes a few minutes, or maybe a few hours, perhaps a few days to formulate a thought about the movie after seeing it the first time. But one thing is undeniable about the movie: if you manage to stick with it and roll with its punches, it’s hard to not come out loving and sympathizing with the unhinged Bernal.
That being said, this is not a movie for everyone. If you are looking for a psychological thriller, this is not for you. A straight romance story, not for you. A comedy, not for you. A tragedy, not for you. If you are willing to go on a journey, keep your mind open, and be teased and prompted and shifted into a position where you think about your own life, life’s disappointments, and life’s dreams, then this movie is for you. I cannot say that this movie is really a story. It is, in my mind, a work of art.