All week long, people have been telling me that Michel Gondry's The Science of Sleep "would've been great – if Charlie Kauffman had written it." Gondry, of course, made his first two features out of scripts created by Kaufman – Human Nature and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – after spending ten years making gorgeously weird and often very funny music videos for a-listers like The White Stripes and Madonna. There's no question that the guy's brain is full of images; but is he capable, when left to his own devices, of threading the pretty pictures through with any kind of traditional narrative strain?
Well, no, actually, as it turns out, The Science of Sleep is not particularly effective, story wise, and no, it doesn't match Eternal Sunshine in terms of emotional resonance. But god, I loved it, so, so much. It will certainly frustrate those who want directors to essentially present them with neat little packages, fully contained narratives wrapped with perfect red bows. It's not an easy thing to comprehend, and it requires work, although like Gondry's last film, its convolutions would almost certainly benefit from repeat viewings. But I think those who miss Kaufman's uncanny ability to tightly structure his stories around a given non-linear gimmick are missing the point: The Science of Sleep structuring gimmick is that it doesn't have a structuring gimmick: what little narrative it has gets its potency from the fact that the thing is a glorious mess.