Stephane Miroux (Gael Garcia Bernal) practices what must be called The Science of Sleep (La Science des reves, 2006).
In the waking world, he's rather lonesome, his father has recently died of cancer, he's living in France but doesn't speak French so can hardly speak to anyone, his mother is duplicitious, & he has a crappy job that doesn't require any of his imagined creativity.
But in his surreal dreams all things are possible. He's the star of a cable access show wherein magic happens, wrongs are avenged, sex is easy, & he can fly out windows.
His actual life & his dream life are equally absurd, & his obsessions are imature. Most of us have our absurd dreams, but it's hard to relate to this guy's escapism, as he's such a fool. I suspect the "quality" of the film for individual viewers will depend on how much they relate to Stephane's fantasies.
I found Stephane generally unappealing as his interior life had no emotional connections for me, so the film seemed not as good as it was imaginative. I'm guessing if there are viewers who share Stephane's interior life, they'd likely find the film both imaginative & artfully made.
He falls in love with his neighbor Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsburgh); that their names are almost identical probably has symbolic meaning of "two sides of the same coin" or potential soul-mates, but that didn't work for me either. This guy's soul mate should have zits if not a large wen on her forehead.
His attraction to someone outside of his dreams throws him off his game of controlled lucid dreaming. Eventually he loses track of where his waking life & his dream life begin & end. Although we the viewers are apparently not supposed to believe he's clinically insane, personally I thought the next stage for him was to begin shitting his pants & never cleaning up after while panhandling on subway platforms.
Appealing for its stop motion animation & little else, fact is, when the cartoon bits are more interesting than the characters in the "real" parts of a film, the actors are falling a little short.
The dvd for The Science of Sleep includes a few extras, including the short film Adopt Some Love (2006).
It's a documentary about cat rescue, interviewing young volunteers, a young woman who cares for a feral colony, daily risking some zoonotic infection interacting with semi-tame animals.
Then there's an elderly "cat lady" along with her daughter. This pair are reminiscent of the unwholesome mother-daughter team documented in Grey Gardens (1978).
We do also encounter a couple semi-normal nurdy people committed to cat rescue. Gerald & Leon stand out, two black dudes who love cats. Leon says, "I'm like the cat superman."
His pal Gerald was just brought along for the ride, but about cats he says, "Kitties, kitties, yes I love kitties."
They make it seem a very constructive way to spend one's spare time, helping out beasties, better than most of the shit we could be doing in whatever passes for a lame-ass life.
Plus the film gives us a few nice portraits of raggedy cats. The film ends with a great silly song "I'm a Good Kitty" which runs in part "I'll sleep on your bed/ I won't poop on your head."
One is left with the impression that normal, emotionally healthy people aren't quite this radically focused on cats.
I don't believe that to be necessarily true, & I don't believe it was director Linda Serbu's intention. But it certainly is a very big impression.
Another of Serbu's short films on the same topic is Rescue Me (2006). Linda raps on adoptiing rescued cats, while interacting with quite beautiful kitties. She's kind of a babe & nice to see her dancing, & if you pay attention, you'll see her nipples.
In the main she comes off as a total loon who'd be giving blowjobs to hobos if she hadn't focused on doing good work for kitties, dancing & singing & rolling on the floor & posing like a pin-up girl & talking baby-talk to felines.
Cats, she maintains, are "addictive like crack," which would seem to be a confession that her obsession is not contructive for her own mental health, or she would've chosen a less despairing addiction for comparison.
Certainly if she acts like this all the time, & not just for the camera, this can't be helpful for herself, whether or not it keeps a very few extra cats out of the rendering plant.
Yet her nuttiness is quite appealing mostly because she's pretty. It would likely seem a bit more dementedly unfortunate if she were an old lady with that house full of cats, or even just a young woman but fat & four-eyed like most cat crazies. It's a looksist world & you can get away with all kinds of shit if you're good looking. When she's old, if she hasn't shaped up to halfway normal, she'll end in tragedy.
Also appealing is the band that dresses in cat costumes to sing a very good song written by Serbu, "If You Rescue Me," heard also on the soundtrack of The Science of Sleep.
If the intent was to convince others to devote their lives to cats, the film fails at that, as both films are more like a warning not to go down that trail. But they're a delightful pair of films no matter what you take from them, warning against eccentricity or encouragement to be odd.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl