Dreams Of A Life is a documentary about Joyce Vincent, a woman who was found in her flat three years after her death surrounded by wrapped christmas presents and with the TV still on. £2400 in arrears on her rent, she was discovered by bailiffs who forced the door down. The film attempts to work out happened to Joyce by interviewing people who knew her. In two other strands that unfold in parallel, various events from her life are re-enacted along with the clearing of her flat by forensics officers.
The result is a fascinating film. It is very touching and not just in its consideration of what happened to Joyce but also to the people that she knew. It is also a film about more than just an unnoticed death, it is also about the role every one of plays in each others lives. It also spans sexual, racial and work place politics. Most of all, it tells a story and highlights the failings of human memory as it does so. There is a great moment where a clip of her voice is played to the people who knew her and their responses are completely different: things like “the first bit is her real voice” compared to “she’s mucking around in that first bit”.
I’m still trying to piece together what it all means. I expect I shall be for a while yet, such was the strangeness and complexity of the tale. It certainly touched a nerve with me, bringing back memories of how in September 2009 I sat at Mill Hill Broadway station and wrote down a list of things I could do to “disappear”: a relationship was ending, I was stressed at work and I was lonely. Later though, once I felt better, I managed to do pretty much the opposite of almost everything on that list.
Meanwhile, I am not so sure that something like this could ever happen again – not now that we have Facebook and things but then people probably thought that about mobile phones and e-mail back in 2003. As a result, I resolve to get in touch with some friends that I haven’t seen for a while and find out how they are getting on.