Dreams of a Life (2011)

DreamsofalifecoverSome stories you hear are so strange and unbelievable, you just want to find out more. And, sometimes, there just isn’t more to know unless you do a little digging yourself. That’s how Carol Morley came to make Dreams of a Life, a documentary film about Joyce Carol Vincent, a thirty-something woman who died alone in her apartment and was not discovered for three years. It’s understandable what drew Morley to this story: how could someone lie dead, undiscovered in their apartment for so long?

Once Morley did some more research, the questions only got more intriguing, and the answers more distant. Vincent was, by all accounts, a beautiful and well-liked woman. The problem: the only people Morley could get in touch with were folks who had known Vincent years ago. What could have happened in those last few years to make a woman die alone in her apartment, with wrapped Christmas presents surrounding her, and no one to miss her?

I really liked this documentary, though some of the dramatizations are a little annoying, and I don’t necessarily like the assumptions they make – after all, this is a documentary about questions, not about fabricating answers. Even still, this film is moving; it’s incredibly sad, especially the interviews with one of Vincent’s ex-boyfriends who wonders: why wouldn’t she ask for help?

In the end, you definitely have more questions than when you started the film. Sometimes, a dead body can offer you lots of answers, but when it’s just a skeleton it’s a lot harder to get those answers out. And when that person is incredibly private and withdrawn, it’s even harder to find out what would have happened to them, especially when it happened three years ago!

I was first drawn to this movie because I heard Barry Adamson did the soundtrack, but when I read the specifics of the topic, I was intrigued. I am still intrigued; I totally understand Morley’s motivation. I definitely recommend this documentary, but don’t go into it expecting answers. There just aren’t any.


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