In 2003, the remains of Joyce Carol Vincent were found in her North London bedsit. Nothing unusual there, perhaps; people die alone all of the time. The strange thing about this was that she wasn't discovered until three years after she had died. Her skeleton was stretched out on the sofa, the television was still on and there were wrapped Christmas presents at her side. Joyce Vincent was not an old woman with no family. She was 38, had siblings, friends and ex-boyfriends. In that time, nobody had called round to see her, nobody had tried to track her down, even the electricity company hadn't shut her power off.
Part documentary, part drama, part detective story, this intriguing film attempts to solve the mystery behind one young, beautiful, seemingly popular woman's lonely death. Carol Morley conducts interviews - which range from funny to heartbreaking - with friends, colleagues and lovers (traced through personal ads, posters and Internet sites) and uses dramatised sequences (featuring actor Zawe Ashton) to recreate the life of this glamorous and vivacious young woman.
While Joyce Vincent died a lonely death, this touching, achingly sad film keeps her name and her memory alive and serves as a reminder to us all that, in this increasingly busy and fractured world, it is vital to remain close to the people you care about.
Review by Bobby Townsend. Dreams of a Life plays at the Sydney Film Festival on Weds morning the 13th June. If you are elsewhere, you can buy the DVD or order it on itunes. Visit the official site for links.
(Incidentally, while we're on the subject of the Sydney Film Fest, we've just noticed that one of our all-time faves is playing this year. Don't miss The Dreamers on Sunday 17th June).