What a great movie. Really, really fabulous. An interrogation of the subconscious, sleep, and the way that relationships create in all of us a double consciousness and anxiety about what we are doing and thinking. This movie is pushed as a sort of escapism but in ways I think it is very, very real. It lays bare the neuroses, anxieities, and fears of anyone who is figuring out that they are in love and are deeply afraid of what that may cause.
Gael Garcia Bernal plays Stephane, and Charlotte Gainsbourg plays Stephanie (note the subtle paralellism). Stephane has just moved back to Paris from Mexico to take a job laying glue and type in a boring office. The work is incredibly lame to Stephane, who spends his down time drawing colorful pictures of disasters to represent every month of the year for a calendar called "Disasterology". At night Stephane dreams colorful, blazing, and amazing dreams of telling off his boss, flying through the air, and a host of other imagery that could come only from the subsconsious.
Stephane means Stephanie when he moves into his new place in Paris. Stephanie is renting from his mother. The two have a connection- besides the names, they can come together in flashes of artisitic creativity where they both strongly enjoy each other's company. But Stephane's detatchment from reality proves a barrier to his relationship with Stephanie. He also has a dysfunctional relationship with his mother and colorful relations with his workmates (the best of whom is played by Alain Chabat in a delightfully dirty turn).
The film is very sweet, and moving in a way. I urge everyone to go see it. The paralells between Stephane and Stephanie helped to remind me of the constant dual anxiety that goes along with dating and relationships- the paranoia that your date will not meet you for coffee, the fear that they will hold a single gaffe against you so much that it wil destroy the relationship, and the emotional difficulty of opening yourself up to loss. The stunning visuals were an accoutrement, not a distraction, to this great movie.