Dreams of a Life (2011)

Director: Carole Morley Starring: Zawe Ashton, Everyone else as themselves. UK/England. 1h 35m

What started off as a shocking headline, ending up depressing and confusing many who sparked up a conversation about the unknown woman involved. The woman was found dead in her apartment, having died 3 years earlier and had gone totally undetected for so long. The crime scene investigators turned up after bailiffs to a striking scene, with Christmas present covered in dust and the television still on, she had passed on her sofa.. but for 3 years went totally unmissed? It was always very concerning that someone would just fall between the cracks. Many couldn’t fathom how the utility or council hadn’t come for payment much earlier but what really got under the skin of the nation was that no friends or family had reported her missing or called on her in all that time.

Mancunian director Carol Morley takes a step further in piecing together the life of a woman generally only known after her death but managed to remain unnamed to many. Gathering together ex lovers, work colleagues and friends, what started as a shocking story soon melds into something more tragic and upsetting as the character they paint of Joyce (yes that’s her name), Is illuminated piece by piece, eventually forming a lucid picture of a genuinely honest and lovely person. She’s so instantly painted as an incredibly pleasant person who really didn’t deserve to end up hitting the headlines for her premature sombre death..

“Everyone had their secrets, she just seemed to have more than most..”

It’s moving in the sense of how personal the documentary is. Morley was blessed with some elegant guests to help shed light on the tragic and sad story that doesn’t let up. While the movie doesn’t fully uncover all the mysteries it does clearly give a poignant send off to someone who remained faceless and forgotten for so very long. It’s not made a point within the documentary but one thing we can all take away is that there is always time to look for those around you.

The actress playing Joyce throughout is mostly is the equally beautiful Zawe Ashton, an english playwright, director and actress, known for Channel 4 work, especially in Fresh Meat which gained her a cult status. Alongside her candid outtakes of joyce’s life there’s a few photographs illustrating just how gorgeous she was physically and with the testimonies, it seems her heart of gold was brimming on the inside. What is bound to hurt are the darker secrets that she seemed to harbour. Deaths within the family when she was a child and potential domestic abuse are just the tip of the iceberg.

In any case, what we do see is very upsetting, as the memories that Joyce left behind are beautiful and harrowing. Her life seemed to spiral from simplicity into something dark and disturbed. It’s hard for her nearest and dearest to hold the tears back by then any viewer with a heart will also be just as teary. I can only hope that Joyce is resting in peace.

Rating: 7/10

Related: The Edge (2010), The Madness of the Dance (2006), The Falling (2014)
Lists: Uncovered Mysteries
Spotlight:Carol Morley

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