Monday, 12 December 2011

Dreams Of A Life

I fully intended to catch Dreams Of A Life, Carol Morley's true story about the long-unnoticed death of 40-year-old Joyce Vincent in a North London bedsit, at the London Film Festival this year. I never made it to the screening for reasons lost in the mists of time (I may as well blame the Victoria Line), so in my stead I sent Mrs The Incredible Suit with specific instructions not to come back without a review.

Amazingly, she did exactly as she was told, so in a shock departure for The Incredible Suit, here's a review written by someone who isn't The Incredible Suit. You can tell because she writes in Arial and I use Trebuchet.

Dreams Of A Life had me holding back tears from the start, and not just because it’s the sad story of a woman who died alone in one of the busiest cities in the world and was found in her flat three years later with the television still on, but also because it’s a telling reflection on our disconnected communities. The film is told through the positive testimony of people who knew Joyce, intermingled with dramatised reconstruction, and it's immediately one of those tales that catches your attention because you’re afraid it could happen to you.

Although it wasn’t always clear who the people in the film were, through their stories we learn that Joyce was like most other people. She had demons from the past that meant she found it hard to trust people (she told a doctor her next of kin was her bank manager) and she couldn’t settle, never made long term plans and regularly moved flats and jobs when things went wrong. With friends, she was the life and soul of a party, but with hindsight they now think she'd become a chameleon and adapted to their way of life rather than live her own.

Director Carol Morley takes on the role of private detective to try and find out why Joyce was seemingly forgotten, apparently doing a better job than the detective hired by Joyce’s family but still not getting to the bottom of it all. The family chose not to take part in the film, but told Morley they had tried to stay in touch with Joyce throughout her life but they too had been unable to find out why she had effectively disappeared.
We never did get to find out why the electric had remained on for three years either (energy providers are usually quick to cut off people who don’t pay their bills), but the shots of Joyce in her final moments watching snippets of the film we’re watching on her TV was a nice touch. It may seem that Joyce had been forgotten, but this wasn't the case. She was often in the minds of her friends, especially Martin, one of the stars of the show, and the reason I finally succumbed to a few tears.

I like films with a reason, and the subtle messages throughout Dreams Of A Life about friendship and society made it so without shoving them down my throat. Our personality is often defined by others’ views about us, but do we really know people? Should we all make more of an effort to make time for people? Should we reach out and ask for more help? This film could be a reason to start.

1 comment :

  1. Dear Incredible Power Suit,it is shocking that someone went for 3 years without having to pay council tax, rates and received BBC TV without a licence.

    No wonder charges are so high if people like Joyce Vincent are allowed to get away without charge.

    By the way, I do not believe in an afterlife but do subscribe to the notion that we are not truly dead so long as there are those that know us who carry images of us in their brains. Anyone you know may be alive or dead if you cannot see tham but you always count tham as alive until proved otherwise. (you are the power behind the suit.)