Dreams of a Life DVD
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Directed by Carol Morley
Produced in 2011
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
Daren Elliott Holmes, Jonathan Harden, Zawe Ashton, Alix Luka-Cain, Ki'juan Whitton
A potent reminder of the tragedy of urban loneliness, Morley's film about a woman who lay three years dead before she was found raises profound societal questions, says Mike McCahill.
In 2006, the decomposed body of Joyce Carol Vincent was found in a North London bedsit, where it had lain for three years, surrounded by half-wrapped Christmas presents. Filmmaker Carol Morley here uses testimony from Joyce’s acquaintances to stage a documentary reconstruction of the events leading to this grim scene, sharing with her interviewees the findings of her own investigation. The damning detail was those presents: if Joyce had gifts for others, why hadn’t anyone stopped by to bring her any?
Amateur psychologists should have a field day with the mystery. A vivacious social butterfly, Morley’s Joyce (Zawe Ashton) is often happy, but rarely seems comfortable, flitting between jobs, flats and lovers. Was she beyond help? If so, why do the interviewees look and sound as if they got here too late? Dreams of a Life deals in questions, rather than definitive answers, but in setting out the scattered facts of an elusive existence, Morley offers a potent, provocative rebuke to the failings of our so-called Big Society.
Mike McCahill on 20th February 2012
Author of 217 reviews
Carol Morley's moving documentary drama is based around the case of Joyce Vincent, who died in her bedsit above a shopping mall in North London in 2003. Her body wasn't discovered for three years, surrounded by Christmas presents she had been wrapping, and with the TV still on. Newspaper reports offered few details of her life - not even a photograph.
Who was she? And how could this happen to someone in our day and age - the so-called age of communication?
Interweaving interviews with imagined scenes from Joyce's life, Dreams of a Life is an imaginative, multi-layered quest, which paints a portrait of Joyce but also London in the 1980s. It is a film about urban lives, contemporary life, and how, like Joyce, we are all different things to different people. It is about how little we may ever know each other, but nevertheless, how much we can love.
Zawe Ashton plays the role of this seemingly forgotten woman.
Length: 90 mins
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 19th March 2012
Cat No: DOG260