I couldn't fall asleep last night, after seeing The Science of Sleep yesterday afternoon. The movie was too brilliant, too enigmatic, and just a tad too close to the bone for me to dismiss it with a "Good movie," then smile and drift off.
The Science of Sleep, on one level, is a classic relationship comedy: Stephan, the socially inept dreamer, meets Stephanie, the quirky and not-quite-socially-normal artist. He does everything inadvertently possible to sabotage their developing relationship. She has make it quite clear that she is not interested in having a boyfriend. Nevertheless, by the end, there is a relationship in place; one that looks to be solid, at that.
On another level, The Science of Sleep explores all of the ways in which our psyche and ego interact -- both the games that play out between our own minds and hearts, and those that we play with other people. Every classic relationship issue is addressed, from basic honesty to hygiene.
Even deeper, the movie brings up the question of perception versus reality, and of how our interpretations and those of others, about the same event, can be equally valid though different.
And The Science of Sleep explores all these issues with wit, charm, humor, and a kind of gritty realism in the acting and dialog, contrasted with the most amazing sets and props I have ever seen in a film.
The dialogue alternates between French (with English subtitles), and English (presumably with French subtitles for its release outside the US), with a soupcon of Spanish. One of the conceits of the film that makes for some hilarity--and says volumes about our ability to really communicate with one another--is that Stephan, although French, has been raised in Mexico and is therefore less than fluent in his native tongue.
None of the actors is movie-star gorgeous, and everyone usually looks as though they could do with a wash and a brush. This provides a nice, reality-check look, particularly in the scene where Stephan ends up dancing at a club with some fully turned out Goth babes after Stephanie abruptly bails.
The dream sequences are tossed off with the same nonchalance as the "real" part of the film, but O.M.G.: they are spectacular, amazing, marvelous, and any other adjective in the Thesaurus that means "creative imagination of the highest order was at work here". Plus beautiful, and quirky, and straight out of Dr. Freud's Dream Interpretation Book.
In all honesty, The Science of Sleep is almost indescribable. But I want to see it at least as many more times as it has marvels; this is ultimately the movie that will drive me to buy a DVD player when it comes out on disc.