LFF Film Review: Dreams of A Life

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Broken Briton

The tale of Joyce Carol Vincent is a particularly modern horror story. Society, we’re told, has fragmented; indeed our Prime Minister, despite enjoying strong community and family ties of his own, tells us it’s broken. The fear that comes with atomisation is the fear of the city, the walled metropolis with its hundreds of thousands of private spaces. People are stacked next to each other and on top of each other but they are not together, they are alone. That lack of community, most would agree, is the trade off that comes with the melting pot and its innumerate cultural and social opportunities. Vincent, we learn, thought so too. One of her relationships faltered when she declined to follow her boyfriend out of the big smoke.

Yet Vincent is a poster-girl for social breakdown. “She fell through the cracks,” we’re told, and who’s going to argue when the facts are so grim? Vincent was living on welfare in a council flat for battered women when, in December 2003, she returned home, dropped some shopping from the nearby centre, got changed, turned on the TV, wrapped some Christmas presents and settled on the floor with her head resting on the sofa. Shortly thereafter she died, aged just 38, possibly from Asthma, possibly from complications from a Peptic ulcer, maybe neither, and there she remained, decomposing in her flat for two and a half years.

In an area frequented by drug dealers, where rubbish collection is a council indulgence, rather than a regular service, neighbours thought nothing of the perpetual noise coming from her flat, or the reek, or the bugs that found their way into the adjoining bedsits. Despite having four sisters, not one person reported Vincent missing or came looking for her. The council allowed her rent arrears to reach £2,400 before serving an order to repossess the flat, and in the meantime, her electricity stayed on, despite going unpaid, so when the council’s lackies finally forced their way inside in April 2006, that Television was still blearing. Vincent was by this time, skeletonised. The woman who was by consensus both beautiful and, outwardly at least, vivacious, was now a tar like stain on the council’s carpet.

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Directed by: Carol Morley

Country: UK

Year: 2011

Running Time: 90 mins


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