Due to a huge coincidence I ended up watching "Science of Sleep" today. The good thing was that I watched it, as I still feel intoxicated by it. The bad part was that it was mostly dubbed in german.
The film itself was nowhere as good as the trailer, but still very much worth watching. Gondry throws you into an extremely subjective perspective by the protagonist Stephane (Gael Garcia Bernal) that feels closest in its pathological state and the complete blurring of dreams and reality to Dito Tsintsadze's masterfull Schussangst "Gun-shy" (2002). Though nowhere as focused as Tsintsadze's attempt, Gondry takes a more positive approach to his character's immaturity and his unability to deal with everyday reality. Without hiding the negative effects of Stephane's daydreaming on him and his surroundings, Gondry's strength lies in the fact that he defines this as a positive trait that should be cherished despite all of its shortcomings. Thus the ending of the film, while remaining almost as ambivalent as in "Gun-shy", can nevertheless be seen as an antithesis to it, and you will probably leave the theater in an uplifted mood, with one eye sad and the other one happy.
The weak points of the film usually lie in the script, as it seemed more like an improvisation, and the same can be said to some extent for the direction which never really delves into the extremes presented. In this way it feels a bit like the fluffy clouds presented in the film. It will keep you warm and aloof, but the shocking reality which accompanies it will be only a distant echo. The acting wasn't particularly great either considering the potential of the roles, because the characters weren't fully developed, as the film often didn't move forward. When it stagnated in some self-indulgent scenes, the actors tried their best to pull it out of it. Too bad Gondry wasn't particularly interested in this. More into the tmosphere and "feel" of a situation than the actual direction of it, this proves to be Gondry's biggest strength and weakness at the same time. Thus he remains in a state much like his protagonist, where indecision leads to moments of apathy, interrupted through sudden bursts of inspiration.
Also worth mentioning is that almost all of the supporting characters seemed at least as interesting as the lead. Though they resembled rough sketches more than actual persons, Gondry's dialogue made them come to a life that is fitting for the perception of Stephane.
So far, out of the four I've seen, this is the weakest film by Gondry, but after Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind probably my second favorite. I absolutely loved a lot of the ideas presented, and I could perfectly identify with the protagonist who could be the twin brother of Denis Levant in Carax' Mauvais sang (1986). Overall a decent portrayal of a pathological person that will probably satisfy the public, but artistically leaves some things to be desired.
But go and see it for yourself.