Science des rêves, La (2006)

aka: Science of Sleep, The
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 1 hr., 45 mins.
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  • Review by Trent Russi
    Rating: 8.0

    The Science of Sleep is an odd little piece of cinema that dazzles the eyes and mind, and kept me wondering where I was and what I was doing in life. After his father dies, Stéphane moves back to France. He is intrigued by his new neighbor St´phanie. As Stéphane's mind wanders back and forth between his dreams and reality, we see that maybe the two aren't that different.

    Michel Gondry

    The Science of Sleep is written and directed by Michel Gondry. Gondry is known for directing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as well as many music videos. My main interest in seeing this film stemmed from Gondry's ability to string together the loose connections of thought in Eternal Sunshine. Here he presents dreams in a similar manner. However, the dreams give us a more direct connection to Stéphane's desires. Gondry does a fantastic job of letting the clutter of his mind fill the screen. Every character is involved in his dreams, echoing his thoughts.

    What's in a dream?

    Life, apparently. Stéphane is lost in dreams so much that he sometimes doesn't know the difference. We both see direct evidence of this, and even hear his mother say as much. Without spoiling anything, the film even ends in a dream. And his dreams are both idealized, fantastic, and yet somehow real. Specifically, his interactions with other people in his dreams. He dreams that Stéphanie jokingly berates him for ruining her stuffed horse. That's a realistic reaction from Stéphanie, even if it's exaggerated. She wants to love him, but seems to refuse to let him know that.


    Stéphane speaks three languages. His mother is French. But he grew up in Mexico. He prefers English to French which he is always messing up. The movie is constantly going back and forth between the languages (mostly French and English). One could almost go so far as to say that this is another metaphor for switching between the language of dreams and reality, but I think not quite. However, it does the excellent purpose of alienating Stéphane, like his dreams do. He attempts French, and occasionally messes up, but he really prefers to speak in English. In fact, sometimes he flat out refuses to speak in French (for example, when speaking in front of a crowd). This serves as a parallel to his refusal to separate the dreams.


    The Science of Sleep is bizarre and wonderful. The awkwardness of friendship and love is wonderfully placed inside fantasy, that you can't help but love the characters. While the level confusion and "artsy-fartsiness" in the film my deter some viewers, this is the type of film I love to talk about. Even if you don't like it (which I do), you will find yourself talking about it.