Original Soundtrack

The Science of Sleep [Original Film Score]

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"In dreams, emotions are overwhelming." So says an excerpt of dialogue in the soundtrack to The Science of Sleep, Michel Gondry's solo directorial debut. The film's blurring of dreaming and waking life -- and how love intersects the two -- is mirrored in its music, most of which is extremely delicate and dreamlike. The Science of Sleep is also a largely, and proudly, French affair that reunites Gondry with Jean-Michel Bernard, who worked with Gondry on Human Nature. Overall, Bernard's work is more delicate and, well, less sunny than Jon Brion's score for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, particularly on whimsically bittersweet pieces such as the largely acoustic "Robinet Cellophane" and "Tours de Cartes." Fragile keyboard themes like "Stephanie Quitte le Cafe" blossom into fuller, more romantic pieces such as "Stephane Visite Appart" and "Golden the Pony Boy," both of which boast lavish strings but still have an airy, almost tentative feel. However, The Science of Sleep isn't made entirely of wispy, cat-napping interludes -- there are nightmarish outbursts that capture how quickly dreams can turn sour, and moments of wide-awake whimsy, too. "Reve Grosses Mains" is a fluidly surreal track with a mind of its own, beginning as a spooky, Danny Elfman-esque orchestral piece before exploding into rock and then blending the two into creepy-playful cacophony. "Reve Patrick Delaware"'s mournful strings and eerie vocals swirl with panicky unease, while the intense "Poursuite Pouchet"'s heavy brass and pianos teeter on the brink of sanity. On the other hand, "Generique Stephane" and "Generique Stephane TV" sound like bottled sunshine mixed with the theme to a '70s TV show. The soundtrack's pop songs are just as vibrant: "Steppin' Out" by Kool & the Gang and "Making Certain" and "Ulcer Soul" by the Willowz (who also appeared on the Eternal Sunshine soundtrack) are welcome returns to the world outside the characters' heads. Above all, The Science of Sleep is a love story, and the soundtrack's most romantic moments are its finest. Two very different and equally charming versions of Lou Reed's stray-cat love song "If You Rescue Me" -- an a cappella version by Linda Serbu and a gently jazzy rendition sung by the cast (in cat costumes, natch) -- are among the standouts. Best of all is the haunting arts-and-crafts folk of "Theme Generique Fin Golden the Pony Boy," a dreamy, innocent celebration of creating a world of imagination more tangible than the real one. This sophisticated yet childlike vision of things is pure Gondry, and this soundtrack is a perfect match for the vivid imaginary world he creates with this film.

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