Dreams of a Life (Morley, 2011): BFI Southbank, NFT2 1.15pm
This film is also on at BFI Southbank on Sunday 16th at 9pm. Details here
Every year there's a buzz that develops around some London Film Festival movies. Dreams of a Life is certainly one of those in 2011. Critics I have spoken to who have seen Morely's latest work are hailing it as one of the best documentaries for many years. There is sure to be a big demand for standby tickets for the two screenings at the festival and my strong advice is to get there early. Here is Carol Morley's moving article in the Observer on how and why she made this remarkable film.
The movie is screening as part of the London Film Festival. Here is my general introduction to the festival. Over the length of the festival I will pick a film a day. I am as confident as I can be that this is the pick of the movies within the parameters I have set - the movies you are likely to get a ticket for and the ones you are unlikely to see in London very soon unless you go to the festival.
Time Out review:
'For her first documentary, ‘The Alcohol Years’ (2000), Carol Morley reconstructed her lost weekends in 1980s Manchester by inviting testimonies from those who remembered her youth more vividly than she could. Morley does a similar thing with this haunting, compassionate and inventive new film, employing talking heads and well-crafted reconstructions, to tell of Joyce Carol Vincent, a 38-year-old woman, born in London of Caribbean descent, who in January 2006 was found dead in her Wood Green flat – with the television still on – over two years since she died.
Old friends, boyfriends and colleagues recall Joyce, although nobody from her presumably estranged family appears on camera. Very little about this gregarious, well-spoken woman who looked like Sade and had well-connected friends in the music industry ever suggested she would meet such an end, although there are hints that Joyce kept her lives separate and latterly suffered abuse from a partner. There are no easy answers, and Morley employs the docu-drama format, with Zawe Ashton as Joyce, to spark our imagination and tease out possible realities rather than simply to illustrate her interviews.
After last year’s ‘The Arbor’, again a filmmaker has employed the grey area between drama and documentary to stress the known and unknowable in a person’s life. Lying next to Joyce’s body when she was found was a pile of presents – an image on which Morley lingers to stress that signs of our sociability are not to be believed. In the age of ‘Facebook friends’, it’s a thought well worth pondering.' Dave Calhoun
Here is a clip from the film.