After the death of his father, aspiring artist Stephane (Bernal) moves home to Paris where his mother has set him up with a promising creative job. When the gig turns out to be a glorified clerkship, Stephane is disappointed, though he is titillated by his attractive new neighbor, Stephanie (Gainsbourg). Increasingly, he takes refuge in his wildly enchanting dreams, where he confidently woos the woman he lacks the confidence to approach in real life.
Located somewhere between romantic fantasy and pure whimsy, Gondry's endearing "Sleep" places live actors in a phantasmagoric dream world stitched together from stop-motion-animated set pieces and found-object collage. Bernal is splendid as the tongue-tied, indecisive young man who is a kind of otherworldly superstar in his sleeping life, and Gainsbourg shines, too, as the object of his affection. Few directors have the audacity — much less the heart — to concoct a grown-up fantasy this magically perverse. We could all use a bit of "Sleep."