Dreams of a Life (SIFF 2012)

Joyce Carol Vincent died alone in her flat in 2003, but her body sat undiscovered until 2006 before being finally being found when officials went to address her failure to pay rent. Who was this woman? What happened to her? How had she ended up so utterly alone that it took 3 years for anyone to discover she had died? Those were the questions plaguing filmmaker Carol Morley, who set out to learn Joyce’s story and make sure she wasn’t forgotten.
This documentary is narrated using clips of interviews with Joyce’s friends and colleagues, and there are many reenactments of both the scenes they describe as well as dramatizations of what her last days may have been like. Ultimately, there are still no answers as to how Joyce Vincent died, but the audience gains a sense of what her life could have been.
This was a touching documentary not only about one individual, but in a larger sense about how we all interact and care for each other. In this digital age of interconnectedness, it seems absurd that someone could fall through the cracks like this. But when I started thinking about friends I’ve lost touch with, it was striking to me how little true interaction we all actually have with each other. Dreams of a Life is a very unique film that tells a story that everyone will take to heart in a different way.

Provided Film Synopsis
In December 2003, Joyce Carol Vincent died while wrapping Christmas gifts and watching television in her north London flat. The cause of her death remains unknown to this day, as her remains were not discovered until three years later, sitting on the couch with her television set still running. In this “dramatized documentary,” director Carol Morley asks, how could this happen in Europe’s largest, most populous city? Taking out ads in newspapers and on the side of London taxicabs, Morley tracked down Joyce’s former friends and colleagues, and assembled their filmed recollections into a compelling, multilayered portrait of an attractive, vivacious, and popular young woman with a quiet, secretive side. Morley interweaves this interview footage with dramatic reconstructions from Joyce’s life, as well as conjectural scenes of her final days, in hopes of comprehending how such a person could literally disappear from so many people’s lives - a mystery that baffles even those who were closest to Joyce. By exploring Joyce Vincent’s death, and life, Dreams of a Life probes larger questions of urban alienation and the all-too-delicate fabric of interpersonal relationships, even in our modern, hyper-networked society.

Movie Details

  • Directed By:

    • Carol Morley
  • Cast Members:

    • Alix Luka-Cain
    • Daren Elliott Holmes
    • Jonathan Harden
    • Zawe Ashton
  • Countries:

    • Ireland
    • UK
  • Languages:

    • English
  • Genres:

    • Biopic
    • Crime/Mystery
    • Documentary
    • Drama
    • Social Issues