Written and directed by french director Michael Gondry, the same person responsible for those surreal visuals evident in the movie The Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind. Stephane Miroux, played by Gael Garcia Bernal, is a young man who loves to sleep, and mostly dream. At the beginning of the movie, we see Stephane concocting an interpretation of how dreams are made in his surreal dream studio “Stephane TV”. After his father divorces his mother (played by Miou-Miou), she finds him a job in a calendar printing company in France. When his mother tells him that it’s a creative job position, he prepares colourful and unusual drawings, each showing a ‘disaster’ which he then calls a “disasterology” calendar. Unfortunately, nobody in the company appreciates his work only to inform him that the job endorsed by his mother to him was a typesetting work.
While leaving his apartment one day, he injures his hand while assisting his new neighbor to move the piano into her apartment. His new neighbor, Stephanie (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg), along with her friend Zoe (Emma de Caunes) invites Stephane into her apartment unaware that he lives just next door. Zoe tends to Stephane’s wound, and Stephane instantly forms an attraction with her although he suspects that it’s Stephanie who finds him a bit attractive.
Stephane discovers that Stephanie is quite the artist like himself after he finds some rag dolls and animals in her apartment, along with a cloth-made boat which they both plan to use in an animated short-film. He gets advice from his sex-obsessed co-worker played by Alain Chabat, and tells Stephanie that he doesn’t live next door but some place far from the apartment, pretending to leave the building when he leaves her apartment. That night, he falls asleep and dreams that his paintings get published for next year’s calendar, gets an an idea to write Stephanie a letter about being a liar in her life, telling her that he really is her neighbor and her landlady’s son, and asking Zoe’s phone number while sharing the tub with his female co-worker(a bathtub filled with clear and blue square-cut cellophane, as his imaginations shown him during his discussion with Stephanie). He wakes up in the tub only to find that he might have sleepwalked and slid a letter he wrote in his dreams in Stephanie’s door. He gets out of his apartment and sticks a metal clothes hanger and gets his letter out from the other side of Stephanie’s door, unaware that Stephanie has already read the confusing letter.
After a strain of confusing visuals, Gondry’s signature use of crafty pedestrians, buildings, and particularly my favorite, the carborated-paper made car Stephane used are perfectly matched with Stephane’s dreams.
This movie’s one of those romantic comedy films I’d like watching over and over again (other than Serendipity). I find Bernal and Gainsboourg’s chemistry quite odd but at the same time its the mystery of how their romance should work that makes it worth the watch. Doesn’t necessarily want to make you boys puke in your seats. Stephane’s oddities are completely accepted by Stephanie under a couple of circumstances. I liked the ending the second time I saw it (since the first time I saw this, I just fell asleep and woke up in the ending..) but I advice you to just stay in your seats all throughout this movie (and make sure that your turn on the subtitles).