The Science of Sleep is like a grade school science fare – there is plenty that’s weird, weak, and unfocused even if one or two exhibits shine. The film is a Gondry effort (he of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Dave Chappelle’s Block Party) that feels a lot like a sandbox where he went to play around. This is a straight a simple party on Gondry’s part, the story is irrelevant, entertainment is irrelevant; he clearly just wanted to do some things for the camera and see what came out. The results aren’t pretty.
The plot of The Science of Sleep, as far as I could follow it, was of Stephane, a transplant from South America who moves France because his father has passed away. He’s an artist that gets a boring job and lives in an apartment building his mom owns. He meets a girl that’s his neighbor and they sort of begin a courtship. The main plot device involves Stephane’s dreams which highlight the surrealism of his world and his inner most feelings and fears.
Sadly all of the dream scenes come out as mishmashes gobblygook, sort of like real dreams. Vivid colors abound and people flit in and out of Stephane’s head in second long bursts. Oddly enough Gondry doesn’t cordon these dreams off so the audience has a clear delineation for what’s real and what’s not. This leads to a blurry and unfocused world and story that leaves you wondering what the hell is going on (and why you should care).
There are some interesting themes presented in the movie which should have been explored more. Parallel Synchronized Randomness is one of the more interesting sidebars that The Science of Sleep uses to highlight how people meet and interact. It’s unlucky for the audience that most of the rest of it feels like an acid trip instead of expounding on clever little theories like this. Essentially what you have here is the worst five minutes of Eternal Sunshine without the solid acting and Kaufman screenplay.
So, all that said, I can’t very well recommend you catch this one at any point. It’s an ambitious effort with a few nice moments but overall it’s a waste of time. I don’t think dreams have ever really been tackled effectively and Gondry is just one more body on the pile of failures in that field. In the final verdict why does he fail so spectacularly here? Perhaps it’s because his dreams aren’t our dreams.