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Monday, May 21, 2012

SIFF Sighting: DREAMS OF A LIFE (Documentary, United Kingdom)

How can a vibrant, social woman in her 30s, living in a big city, die alone in her home and not be discovered for three years?

This is what the documentary DREAMS OF A LIFE examines in the true story of Joyce Carol Vincent.

Joyce was apparently wrapping Christmas presents one evening in 2003 and died of what must have been natural causes. She was found in 2006, her remains so decomposed they could not definitively determine what killed her.

Due to the type of housing she lived in, her rent was covered for a long time, her electricity was never shut off (her television was still on when she was found) and she was in between jobs so none of her colleagues "missed her." The friends she had knew of her as a free spirit and figured she was off on some adventure. Her mail continued to be delivered, piling up in her front room where it landed. No one realized her body lay ready to be discovered in a London flat.

What this documentary does is re-enact certain elements of Joyce's life using an actress who bears a strong resemblance to her, and they mix that with talking head interviews with friends and acquaintances who can't believe she's gone.

The story is undeniably fascinating and speaks to a larger issue in the lack of community of present times. However, I do think the filmmakers focused too much on silly details (so what if she liked to sing—we didn't need to hear several 'songs' to represent that) and not enough time on her living sisters and the actual investigation following the discovery of her body.

Nonetheless, a powerful representation of what can happen, even in this age of information sharing and virtual connectedness.

DREAMS OF A LIFE screened at the 38th annual Seattle International Film Festival.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved the documentary. But I cannot imagine that this person died of "natural causes" at age 38 while watching t.v. Maybe a suicide? I wish we knew. She was very closed off by that time. A suicide seems possible to me. Tragic. This haunted me.

1:59 PM  

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