I suppose this is one of those movies that falls under the either you’ll love it or you’ll hate it categories. My husband only made it through about fifteen minutes before he decided it wasn’t for him. However, my nineteen year old son and I both love it. It was written and directed by Michel Gondry. He is probably best known for writing and directing “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. This is a French film; however, the languages spoken are English, Spanish and French.
The main character of Stephane is played by Gael Garcia Bernal. Stephane has trouble separating the world he creates when he’s dreaming from the real world. He has had this problem since he was a young child. When his mother and father split up, Stephane chose to live with his father in Mexico, instead of with his mother in France. However, after his father’s recent death from cancer, he lets his mother talk him into coming back to France.
His mother lines up a job for his return. She leads him to believe that it is a creative position at a company that makes calendars. However, it turns out to be a mind numbing repetitive job of personalizing them with the name of the company that is ordering them. Stephan is obviously not happy with the situation.
Shortly after he moves into his mother’s apartment he sees that a new tenant is moving in directly across the hall from him. He ends up meeting her through an incident involving her piano; it kinda tries to run over him on the stairs. Her name is Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg). She mistakenly believes he was one of the movers and he goes along with it.
At first he is attracted to her friend, that is helping her move in. However, after spending more time with Stephanie, he is finding himself interested in her. They have similar interests, are very creative and have pretty active imaginations. She even seems interested in his rather bizarre inventions he comes up with (such as, 3D glasses for real life). Of course, he now has the awkward predicament of him living across the hall from her and having lied about it.
The movie is constantly jumping back and forth between Stephane’s dream world and the real world. The dream world stuff is really fun. A lot of the cities are made from cardboard; one resembles a pop-up book and another is made up of cardboard tubes (like from toilet paper rolls).
After a while Stephane isn’t happy with what is happening in his dreams. So he decides to take matters into his own hands and try to control them. One of his great ideas is to put his feet into a freezer while he sleeps, which causes him to have a dream involving skiing.
It’s pretty obvious that a lot of crazy stuff happens throughout the movie. However, it is also a story about how Stephane deals with his problem of reality vs. dreams. He really tries; however, things don’t always go as he would like them to. This is a unique and quirky movie with a lot of heart.
Gael is absolutely fabulous in the role. His character varies greatly depending on what world we are seeing him in. In the real world he tends to be very unsure of himself, is extremely sensitive and can find it difficult to interact with others. In his dream world he often comes across with extreme confidence (more likely to say what he really feels) and in some cases over-the-top craziness. It is a joy to watch him in this film.
Some of my favorite quotes:
Stephane – “I’m talking quietly to not wake myself up.”
Guy – “We don’t do this part. We do the boring bit: the name of the credin who sends out this crappy calendar.”
Stephane – “I have some glasses that you can see real life in 3-D.”
Stephanie – “Isn’t life already in 3-D?”
Stephane – “No, … but, yeah, but … Come on, I mean, do you wanna … do you wanna try it?”
Stephane – “I can’t believe that my mother lied about the job just to get me over here. It’s completely unethical to do that to your own son. It’s horrible. It’s the worst job I’ve ever had in my life.”
Stephan – “I mean, it’s not funny, but I find it funny.”
Stephan – “So the forest inside the boat? That’s genius. That’s like a vegetable Noah’s Ark.”
Stephane – “No, no, no. It’s only a dream. We don’t have to work in dreams.”
Stephane – “What are you doing dressed like that?”
Guy – “It’s punk.”
Stephane – “Gérard, you are a professional magician. You look old and you live in a small suburban house.”
Stephane – “Okay, I’m exhausted. I’m gonna wake up now.”
Stephane – “I can’t understand you guys when you talk to me in two different languages. It makes me feel schizometric. Schizo … Schizo …”
Guy – “Schizophrenic. That’s the word you’re looking for.”
Stephanie – “Why did you do it twice?”
Stephane – “The first time was the future and the … the second one was just the present.”
Stephane – “I’m sorry. I wasn’t sure if I was awake.”
Stephane – “I like your boobs. I think they are very friendly and unpretentious.”
Gael is absolutely adorable in this film.
They must have had a blast building all the cities for the dream worlds.
I loved when Guy got upset with what was on TV so took it down to the river and threw it in.
OMG, Gael in a fuzzy cat suit, playing the drums.
Following is additional information about the show that contains spoilers. If you don’t want to be spoiled don’t read any further.
The scene when Stephane broke into Stephanie’s apartment to put Golden the Pony Boy back was great. It was so funny the way he jumped on the bed and curled up hoping she wouldn’t notice him. After that you feel so bad for him because he was trying to do something nice for her and it really backfired.
It was so sad when Stephane is leaving for Mexico and he goes over to say goodbye to Stephanie. You can tell he still wants her to be his girlfriend and isn’t ready to say goodbye. However, they are at the point where there is just no way to fix things. Which leads to him saying some of the most awkwardly inappropriate things.