One of my favourite ever films is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I love the insanity of it, the pain, the romance and the magnificent cinematography. But I’ll write on that another time. The Science of Sleep is by the same director, Michel Gondry, and has a lot of similarities. Although where Eternal Sunshine is on memories, this is on dreams. Now, I’m predicting what you’re thinking – dreams in films are a tedious cop-out that leaves the audience unimpressed. Not when the director is Michel Gondry.
Stephane (Gael Garcia Bernal) has returned to Paris and to his (mostly absent) mother after his father’s death. He takes a job in a calendar company with a group of odd misfits but dreams of something more creative. After an accident with the moving of a piano, he meets his neighbour Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her friend Zoe (Emma de Caunes). Stephanie and Stephane both inhabit a mysterious artistic world. In the case of Stephane, not only does he live much of his life in dreams, but his dreams are somewhat real. Also, he invents amazing things, like a time machine that only works for one second increments, or 3D glasses that make 2D images come to life. He wants to pursue Stephanie, but his dreams get in the way.
It is beautiful, like watching any of Gondry’s music videos, however I started to grow tired of the story. There was so much information being thrown at me that by the end, I was exhausted. The film moved between French and English (and occasionally Spanish) which beautifully portrayed Stephane’s struggle with returning to Paris. I would still recommend it to anyone who loves beautiful films.
Despite recently struggling to re-watch Babel and barely coping with Biutiful, I chose to watch Amores Perros. The connection here is that it was also directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and it is also a totally sadtacular film. Wikipedia lists Amores Perros as being the first in a loosely connected trilogy which also includes 21 Grams and Babel. There do not appear to be character overlaps between the Amores Perros (which translates as ‘Love’s a Bitch’) and Babel, but it is more the type of story being told.
Amores Perros follows three key stories, at times overlapping and at other times, closely focused on one of the three. The key event is a car accident. There is Octavio (Gael Garcia Bernal) who is in love with his brother’s wife, Susana (Vanessa Bauche). He is desperate to take her away, and begins pitting his dog against others in dog fights to raise the money. When fleeing from some quite nasty men, Octavio’s car crashes into the car of model Valeria (Goya Toledo), causing a lot of damage to her leg. Valeria had just moved into an apartment with Daniel (Alvaro Guerrero) who has left his wife for her. Finally, there is El Chivo (Emilio Echevarria), a man living on the streets who, many years previously, abandoned his wife and child to join the guerilla movements. However, he ended up in jail, and upon being released, has become homeless surrounded by a family of dogs. Spotting his daughter, he attempts to find a way to contact her.
Some of the motifs and themes are a little heavy-handed, but despite the graphic dog fighting scenes, I quite enjoyed this film. It’s dark, but somehow carries some sense of hope. Certainly, I am now keen on seeing 21 Grams. Might wait a few months, though. Perhaps watching some rom coms or action stuff in the meantime, cleanse my palette.
Amores Perros was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.