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Dreams of a Life [DVD]


Price: £5.70 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Zawe Ashton
  • Directors: Carol Morley
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Dogwoof
  • DVD Release Date: 19 Mar. 2012
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B006ME44WS
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,278 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Nobody noticed when Joyce Vincent 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, powerful, multilayered quest, and is not only a portrait of Joyce but a portrait of London in the eighties - the City, music, and race.

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.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By jackdawsson on 9 Feb. 2013
Format: DVD
This docu-drama about the life & deterioration of Joyce Vincent, who died aged 38, was interesting & moved me deeply. Though the role of playing Joyce doesn't seriously challenge actor Zawe Ashton, she still gives us a fine interpretation. The many interviews from her former friends & acquaintances depict a highly intelligent, vivacious, attractive woman, who was quite a socialite in her prime, even meeting Nelson Mandela. Sadly, in the last years of her life, she'd disappeared completely off the social radar, finally ending up in a bedsit provided as a refuge for battered women. It was here that her dead body lay undiscovered for 3 years.

One gets the impression that Joyce was a very complex individual struggling with many inner demons, who became a drifter in her latter years. I agree with L. Hennessey's review about some kind of depressive illness being a likely contributing factor to her deterioration. Highly intelligent people like Joyce can hide increasing depressive illness from others for longer than usual, despite the inner damage done to ones personality. The previous abusive relationship with a male companion would also have significantly exacerbated her already vulnerable condition.

This seems a reasonable explanation for her general deterioration & increasing need for social isolation. However, such was the extent of destitution portrayed overall, I felt compelled to Google more about her family, not least her 4 sisters.

I discovered that her sisters had in fact been searching for Joyce with considerable effort for a long time before she died. They even hired a private detective for the task. His search actually lasted for a long time after Joyce's lonely death.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Straightforward TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 May 2012
Format: DVD
The story of Joyce Vincent is a sad one: in 2003 she died alone in her flat at the young age of 38, where her body lay undiscovered for three years - when she was eventually discovered by bailiffs who made a forced entry, the television was still on. This documentary taps into the horror and dread that most people feel when they try to imagine how isolated a life can become for that to be possible.

The film-makers attempt to recreate a time-line of her life by interviewing people that knew her - they published public notices appealing for those who recognised her name to contact them. We see past loves, school friends and work colleagues talk to the camera as they describe an outgoing, vivacious and attractive woman who by all accounts was the centre of attention wherever she went. They all seem to be properly shocked by her fate. 'How could this have happened?' is the question that hides just underneath their spoken words.

Interspersed between these testaments are reconstruction scenes, which I felt took away from the impact of the story - I've never been a fan of this form of depicting events: in my opinion the film was edited to 90 minutes for the cinematic release, but would have really benefited from being cut down to an hour, and removing most of it. I don't need to see three and a half minutes of an actress singing along to a song in front of a wardrobe mirror with a hairbrush, for example - I *know* I'm not watching the real subject of the story, but someone pretending to be her; it got quite irritating to go through at moments. The lack of pictures or footage of the real Joyce was a powerful absence, but one that wasn't filled by these scenes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pat Moore on 26 Aug. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A stunning semi-documentary that truly makes you think and stay with you for months afterwards. Every one should see it.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John Perrin on 12 Mar. 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is 1st class movie making ,
it is like being on the outside of someones life and looking in ,
Who lives behind those house or flat windows ?
The story behind it is an original one ,
and the ending is stunning
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Format: DVD
This documentary will wake you in the early hours of morning, the story of a young woman who died next to the Christmas presents she had been wrapping and she was not found for three years! It is a terrible indictment of the connected, networked society that we live in that fails for want of human contact.

It is one star short because the extra documentary of laughs and jokes of the actors and crew appears insensitive after the dramatisation of this poor woman's life.

I agree with another of the reviews: The horror that we find in the story is all the more stark as we can see ourselves in the portrait of Joyce Vincent.

This is not a film I could watch over and over as it's theme is all too raw.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By W. Hill on 2 Feb. 2012
Format: DVD
A stunning, frightening and very moving film on how you can get lost even in a big city like London. You will cry and ring a friend straight after.....
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By ASwol83 on 8 Dec. 2012
Format: DVD
The above line comes from a hauntingly beautiful song by, in my opinion, Newcastle's most imperishable songwriter, Alan Hull of Lindisfarne. Most people only know him, if they know him at all, for 'Fog on the Tyne', but, as anyone who listens to his solo work will realize, he was so much more than that. And the strange and desperately sad story of Joyce Vincent puts me in mind of that said song of Hull's,'Somewhere Out There', about the mystery that is human existence with all its vagaries.

That's how I felt about Joyce Vincent's life: that her story was destroyed before it could be connected. I feel deeply sad and sorry for her that this didn't prove possible. Carol Morley deserves plaudits for her dogged efforts to unearth what information she could about Joyce's life, and also for highlighting how the social fabric of this country grows ever weaker. And yes, most of Joyce's friends and acquaintances come across as slightly self-absorbed in this film, and it could be argued that they should have made more of an effort to see how things were going in her life. Most seem to be products of the glitzy (yet wholly vacant) decade of Thatcher, which did so much to contribute to the atomization of British society.

Having said that, Joyce seemed to me to be a woman who could never establish roots or stability, and so consequently she led a pretty rootless, drifting existence. Whether this was because her father wasn't a big presence in her life we can only speculate, but I felt that she was actually quite a complex woman who was searching for something that she could never quite find, and that's a very sad reality of life. She was beautiful and intelligent, but what her life and this film show is that these things do not guarantee a fairytale ending.
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