If tomorrow you disappeared you would think someone-your friends, family, your work colleagues-would notice that they hadn’t seen you and report it. However as Dreams of a Life shows us people can still slip through the cracks.
In December 2003 Joyce Carol Vincent died alone in her home in North London, however her body wasn’t discovered until January 2006 when bailiffs were sent round to her bed sit for unpaid bills. This drama-documentary tries to uncover who was Joyce and how no one noticed she was gone.
The film leaves you wondering how can someone in this day and age can die unnoticed like this. Joyce was a beautiful, outgoing woman in her thirties and yet she died alone in her flat and no one realised for three years. It seems unimaginable and scary that this actually happened to someone.
Director Carol Morley tries to discover the truth about what happens to Joyce, and as she speaks to her friends and co-workers, a picture of Joyce is drawn for us. She had friends, boyfriends and people seemed to like her. Yet some of the pieces of the puzzle are still missing. Through Morely’s meticulous research we know Joyce had four sisters who were still alive but we don’t know why they never reported her missing. As they declined to be interviewed it seems there’s a lot we’ll never know about Joyce.
Zawe Ashton plays Joyce is the film’s reconstruction scenes and Ashton is spellbinding in the role. I’m mostly familiar with her through her comedy work such as St Trinians 2 and TVs Fresh Meat but she handles a dramatic role brilliantly. Ashton displays Joyce as a friendly, outgoing woman yet with a subtle sadness sunder her smile.
It’s not a comfortable film to watch but it is a powerful look at how someone can just disappear from life so easily. It makes you think about how well you really know people. Those you think of as friendly and happy may have something else going on underneath that they hide from the world.
Rating 4/5 – powerful, emotional but worth seeing and remembering someone who was forgotten for so long