Dreams of a Life

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Dreams of a Life
Dreams of a life.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Carol Morley
Produced by Cairo Cannon
Written by Carol Morley
Starring Zawe Ashton
Distributed by Dogwoof Pictures
Release date
  • 16 December 2011 (2011-12-16) (UK)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office £187,513[1]

Dreams of a Life is a 2011 drama-documentary film, released by Dogwoof Pictures, directed by Carol Morley and starring Zawe Ashton.


The film tells the story of Joyce Carol Vincent, whose skeletal remains were found in her flat in Wood Green, North London, in January 2006. Joyce was found surrounded by wrapped Christmas gifts and with her TV still switched on, having remained undiscovered since December 2003.[2] Due to advanced decomposition, the cause of death was unable to be determined.

The film features interviews with various friends, acquaintances and former partners in an attempt to tell the story of Joyce, who is played in reconstructions by Ashton.


Director Carol Morley was inspired to make the documentary on Joyce's life after reading an article on her that failed to mention her age, race or any detailed information. She tracked down interviewees by taking out ads in newspapers and hiring a cab to drive around London asking people to contact her if they knew Joyce.[3] She was surprised to learn that many of the respondents did not know Joyce was dead until she spoke to them even though some of them remembered hearing of her death when it was reported on in newspapers.

Morley was criticized for an extended fictionalized sequence that featured Zawe Ashton as Joyce performing "A Smile is Just a Frown". She stated that she was inspired to keep the sequence in the film by a similar sequence in Agnès Varda's Cléo from 5 to 7 and also credited Varda's documentary work with inspiring much of her movie.

Morley was also in contact with Joyce's four sisters, all of whom refused to be in the film.[4] Although they asked Morley not to make the film, she went ahead with production, but gave them an advance screening in order to show that she had been respectful in remembering their sister.


The film received a rating of 62 on aggregate movie review website Metacritic and 70% on Rotten Tomatoes, indicating an overall positive reception.[5][6]

Steven Wilson's album Hand. Cannot. Erase. was inspired by his viewing of the movie.[7]


External links[edit]