The Science of Sleep (French: La Science des rêves, literally The Science of Dreams) is a 2006 surrealistic science fantasy comedy film written and directed by Michel Gondry. Starring Gael García Bernal, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Miou-Miou and Alain Chabat, the film stems from a bedtime story written by Sam Mounier,[4][5] then 10 years old.

The Science of Sleep
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMichel Gondry
Written byMichel Gondry
Produced byGeorges Bermann
StarringGael García Bernal
Charlotte Gainsbourg
Alain Chabat
CinematographyJean-Louis Bompoint
Edited byJuliette Welfling
Music byJean-Michel Bernard
Distributed byGaumont (France; through Gaumont Columbia TriStar Films[1])
Mikado Film (Italy)[2]
Release dates
  • 16 August 2006 (2006-08-16) (France)
  • 26 January 2007 (2007-01-26) (Italy)
Running time
106 minutes
Budget$6 million[3][better source needed]
Box office$15.3 million[2]

Plot edit

Stéphane Miroux (Gael García Bernal), is a shy young man whose vivid dreams often interfere with his waking life. After the death of his divorced father in Mexico, Stéphane moves to Paris to live closer to his mother Christine. He moves into his childhood home and starts a new job his mother has found for him in a calendar printing company.

Stéphane had been told it was a creative job and shows his new colleagues his drawings, a collection of twelve illustrations depicting unique disasters. He calls his collection "disasterology". But nobody at his new job appreciates his talents – the job is no more than typesetting work, leaving him frustrated, as revealed in his dreams.

While leaving his apartment to go to work one day, the new neighbour Stéphanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg) invites him into her apartment; he soon realizes that she is creative and artistic. They plan a project together, a short animated film based around a boat Stéphanie was making.

As the story begins to unfold, surrealistic and naturalistic elements begin to overlap within Stéphane's reality, and the viewer is often uncertain of which portions constitute reality and which are dreams. One dream sequence, in which Stéphane dreams his hands become absurdly giant, was inspired by a recurring nightmare director Michel Gondry had as a child. As the line between dream and reality gradually becomes more blurred, Stéphane becomes enamoured with Stéphanie, and he shares his inventions with her, such as the 'one-second time machine'. Stéphane's dreams begin to encroach on his waking life, making him unsure of reality and whether Stéphanie's feelings for him are real.

Stéphanie's toy horse is named Golden The Pony Boy, a reference to The Outsiders, the meaning poignantly hinting at Stèphane's regression and childlike behaviour around Stéphanie, which could stem from the loss of his father. He implants a mechanism inside Golden the Pony Boy that will make it gallop. He later receives a call from Stéphanie thanking him; she reveals the pony was named after him.

To Stéphane's surprise, the calendar manufacturer accepts his "disasterology" idea and the company has a party in his honor, but he begins drinking excessively after he witnesses Stéphanie dancing with another man. The next day, the two have a confrontation in their hallway when Stéphane announces that he does not want to be Stéphanie's friend any longer. Stéphanie offers to discuss their issues on a date, but on his way there Stéphane has a vision that she is not there. He runs to her apartment and bangs on her door, when in actuality, she is waiting for him at the café. Stéphanie returns home, while Stéphane decides to move back to Mexico.

Before leaving, Stéphane's mother insists that he says a formal goodbye to his next-door neighbor, Stéphanie. In his attempt to do so, he becomes crass, making offensive jokes. As his antagonistic behaviour pushes her, Stéphanie asks Stéphane to leave but he climbs into her bed, noticing two items on her bedside: his one-second time machine, and the finished boat they planned to use in their animated film. The film closes with Stéphane and Stéphanie riding Golden the Pony Boy across a field before sailing off into the sea in her boat.[6]

Cast edit

  • Gael García Bernal as Stéphane Miroux, a shy and creative young man who moves to Paris to accompany his mother. His mother gets him a job at a calendar printing company in France. He becomes interested in his next-door neighbor, Stéphanie, who is also a creative and artistic individual like himself.
  • Charlotte Gainsbourg as Stéphanie, Stéphane's next door neighbor. She is an artist who works at an art supply store with her friend, Zoe. Uninterested in playing romantic games, she is reserved yet taken with Stéphane. She seems aloof but caring, which keeps the viewer guessing about her feelings.
  • Miou-Miou as Christine Miroux, the mother of Stéphane Miroux. She is the landlord of Stéphane's neighbor, Stéphanie. She is also a teacher and has a boyfriend.
  • Alain Chabat as Guy, Stéphane's sex obsessed co-worker, who often gives Stéphane advice and covers for him when he misses work.
  • Emma de Caunes as Zoé, Stéphanie's work friend who Stéphane is initially attracted to.
  • Sacha Bourdo as Serge, Stéphane's co-worker at the calendar printing company.
  • Aurélia Petit as Martine, Stéphane's co-worker at the calendar printing company.
  • Pierre Vaneck as Monsieur Pouchet Stéphane's boss

Production edit

The film was written and directed by Michel Gondry, marking his third feature film. It was produced by Georges Bermann, Michel Gondry, and Frédéric Junqua. Cinematography was by Jean-Louis Bompoint, who is also known for doing cinematography for The Thorn in the Heart (2009) and New York, I Love You (2008). It was shot on spherical lens.

The budget was $6,000,000.

The aspect ratio is 1.85:1 and the negative format 35 mm (Fuji Eterna 500T 8573) with a printed film format of 35 mm. Film Length: 2,925 m (Portugal, 35 mm).

The Science of Sleep was shot in four primary locations, all in France: Chérence, Val-d'Oise; Forges, Orne; Paris 18, Paris; and Paris.

Reception edit

The Science of Sleep received generally favorable reviews. It holds a 70% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. The website's critics consensus, "Lovely and diffuse, Sleep isn't as immediately absorbing as Gondry's previous work, but its messy beauty is its own reward."[7] On Metacritic it has a score of 70 out of 100.[8]

Box Office edit

The Science of Sleep was released on September 22, 2006, and remained in theaters until December 21, 2006. The film was distributed by Warner Independent Pictures. Domestically, in North America, the film grossed around US$4.6 million. The film did relatively better internationally, where it grossed US$10.4 million. Worldwide, The Science of Sleep grossed roughly 15.2 M USD.[citation needed]

Critical response edit

In a New York Times article by A.O. Scott, an American journalist and cultural critic, describes the film as "profoundly idiosyncratic" and "so confident in its oddity" that any attempt to describe and explain the film would be misleading. He later states, "What I'm trying to say is that 'The Science of Sleep,' for all its blithe disregard of the laws of physics, film grammar and narrative coherence, strikes me as perfectly realistic, as authentic a slice of life as I've encountered on screen in quite some time." Scott argues that the film's loose connection of events and misleading narrative are appropriate for its themes: "Plot summary, therefore, is both irrelevant and impossible. Which is not to say that the movie lacks a story, only that, like a dream, the narrative moves sideways as well as forward, revising and contradicting itself as it goes along. Mr. Gondry, who would rather invent than explain, makes a plausible case that a love story (which is what "The Science of Sleep" is) cannot really be told any other way. Love is too bound up with memories, fantasies, projections and misperceptions to conform to a conventional, linear structure."[9]

Many other critics have stated that the film's plot is hard to understand, but Gondry's grasp of emotions and visuals is what makes the story unique and profound.[10]


Soundtrack edit

The score to The Science of Sleep was composed by Jean-Michel Bernard. Jean-Michel Bernard is a French pianist, composer, educator, orchestrator, and music producer. He is also well known for regularly writing, performing, and scoring film soundtracks. The song "Instinct Blues" by The White Stripes is used in the film but was not included on the soundtrack release.[11] The song "If You Rescue Me", played by a band of people dressed as cats in a dream sequence, has the melody of the song "After Hours" by the Velvet Underground but with different lyrics.

Influences edit

Jungian psychology

As the film The Science of Sleep constantly jumps back and forth from Stéphane's reality, dream, consciousness, and subconsciousness, the film has taken much influence from psychology, Jungian psychology specifically, also known as analytical psychology. The name was given by a Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, who wanted to distinguish his studies from Freud's psychoanalytic theories.

The use of psychological archetypes was advanced by Jung in 1919. In Jung's psychological framework, archetypes are innate, universal prototypes for ideas and may be used to interpret observations. A group of memories and interpretations associated with an archetype is a complex, e.g. a mother complex associated with the mother archetype. Jung treated the archetypes as psychological organs, analogous to physical ones in that both are morphological givens that arose through evolution.[12][13]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "La Science des rêves (2006)". Lumiere. Retrieved 9 April 2023.
  2. ^ a b "The Science of Sleep (2006)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 7 June 2007.
  3. ^ "Science des rêves, La (2006) - Box office / business". Internet Movie Database. 29 September 2006. Retrieved 2007-06-07.
  4. ^ "Unsung Films". Unsung Films Blog. Retrieved 26 July 2007.
  5. ^ "To Tony Productions". Daniel Hess. Retrieved 26 July 2007.
  6. ^ "The Science of Sleep - the Film". 28 January 2020.
  7. ^ "The Science of Sleep". Rotten Tomatoes.
  8. ^ "The Science of Sleep Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  9. ^ Scott, A. o. (22 September 2006). "A Parisian Love Story in Forward, and Sideways, Motion". The New York Times.
  10. ^ "The Science of Sleep".
  11. ^ "Science des rêves, La (2006) - Soundtracks". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 7 June 2007.
  12. ^ "How Carl Jung's Archetypes and Collective Consciousness Affect Our Psyche". 22 January 2016.
  13. ^ "Carl Jung | Simply Psychology". 3 November 2022.

External links edit