Watch Dreams of a Life
- 1 hr 35 min
Dreams of a Life is a British documentary film directed by Carol Morley, which tells the story of Joyce Vincent, a woman who died alone in her London flat, and whose body remained undiscovered for three years. The film uses a mix of interviews with friends, former lovers, colleagues and family members, as well as re-enactments, archive footage and stills, to piece together Joyce's life and reflect on broader themes of loneliness, isolation and human connection.
Joyce Vincent was born in London in 1965, and grew up in a working-class family, with a younger sister and two brothers. She was a bright and ambitious girl, with a passion for music and a talent for singing. She attended college and worked as a receptionist, but her life took a turn when she got involved with a man called Lynton, who was abusive and controlling. Joyce became pregnant and had a son, but the relationship ended badly, and Lynton took their child away from her.
After that, Joyce seemed to drift from one job and one relationship to the next, never quite finding her footing. She had a string of boyfriends, some of whom were violent, and she became involved in drugs and prostitution. She was known as a charismatic and glamorous figure, who dressed well and always had a good story to tell, but she also had a darker side, and was prone to outbursts of anger and erratic behaviour.
By the time Joyce moved into her flat in Wood Green in the late 1990s, she had cut ties with most of her friends and family, and had become increasingly isolated. She stopped paying her bills and rent, and her electricity and gas were cut off. She withdrew completely from the world, and spent her days and nights alone, watching TV and listening to music. She decorated her flat with pictures of herself and mementoes of her past, creating a kind of shrine to her own memory.
Joyce's body was discovered in early 2006, after a housing officer broke into her flat to carry out an inspection. She was lying on her sofa, surrounded by Christmas presents and unopened letters. She had died of natural causes, but it was clear that she had been dead for a long time, possibly up to three years. The discovery of Joyce's death shocked and puzzled those who had known her, and raised uncomfortable questions about how someone could die alone and unnoticed in the heart of one of the world's busiest cities.
Dreams of a Life explores these questions through a series of interviews with Joyce's friends, former lovers, colleagues and family members, who try to piece together the fragments of her life and understand what led her to such a lonely and tragic end. The film also draws on written and visual sources, such as Joyce's diaries, photographs and songs, to give a sense of her personality and world view.
One of the main themes of the film is the idea of memory, and how we construct our own identities through the stories we tell about ourselves and others. The film asks whether Joyce's life and death can tell us something deeper about the human condition, and whether her story has a wider resonance beyond her own personal tragedy.
Overall, Dreams of a Life is a haunting and thought-provoking film that raises important questions about loneliness, isolation, and the fragility of human existence. It is a reminder that even in the midst of a busy and bustling city, it is possible for someone to slip through the cracks and vanish without a trace, and that our memories and connections with others are what give our lives meaning and value.
Dreams of a Life is a 2012 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 35 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.8 and a MetaScore of 62.