Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Science of Sleep

Danny and I went to see the Science of Sleep this weekend in an actual theater (our first movie in 4 months). We thought about seeing crispin hellion glover's "what is it?" (surely bizarre with an all down's syndrome cast) at central cinema the movie theater with a full bar and dinner service. I suspected "what is it?" would be sold out on a saturday night but I also feared it might be too depressing.

The Science of Sleep lends itself well to a Jungian individuation / coming of age interpretation (it's easy to read the film as if all the characters are aspects of a single person). In college I took a Jungian Film class where we analyzed a film a week including Repo Man, Thelma and Louise and Blue Velvet through a Jungian lens - archetypes, collective unconscious, shadow, anima, animus, process of individuation - great fun. Anyway, the Science of Sleep was very funny, poetic, full of emotion, risk taking. Stephane, a boy / man who just lost his father to cancer, meets his female counterpart (anima) Stephanie. At the center of the film is the romantic push pull, all of the emotions in the film are grounded, easy to relate to and reflect our modern romance neurotic dance.

Stephane / Stephanie is insecure, afraid of rejection, creative, very cerebral, still very immature. On the surface of the story, it looks like Stephane alienated his love interest with his strange (schizophrenic? psychotic break?), unpredictable behavior. But because nearly everything in the movie is set in an alternate reality dream world, we can't distinguish real events from imagination. 99% of the film is from Stephane's perspective. Danny felt that Stephane's dream world really wasn't pathological, it was all symbolism. The film works both ways. He's grieving, he's disoriented, jet lagged, speaking a language in which he lacks fluency, he's trying to define who he is. The emotional core is that he's trying to establish himself as an adult: wearing his father's old suit from the 70s, taking a job, breaking away from his mother, creating art and making inventions. The one second time machine was totally hilarious. He says he really wants to be an inventor - he's inventing his adult self.

In the end he reveals himself to Stephanie, curling up in her bunk bed, "I like you because you're different. Because you understand. Because you make things with your hands."

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