If You Went Missing…Would Anyone Come Looking? A Review of Dreams of a Life

How close are we really to the people in our lives?

I first heard about this film more than a year ago courtesy of the indiewire site ShadowandAct. Ever since then, I’ve been curious about it’s development and finally its release.

“Dreams of a Life” is a documentary/drama based off the life and subsequent death of one Joyce Vincent. The movie is told through the perspective of her friends (if they can be called that), acquaintances, and associates, all people whom knew little pieces of her, but none who really “knew” her as the story would later reveal.

What makes the story of Joyce Vincent so intriguing, and sad, is not the fact that she was found dead in her apartment with the TV on in 2006. It’s the fact that by the time she had been discovered, she had been dead for three years. Yes, three full years. Joy Vincent died around Christmas of 2003 and no one became aware of this until 2006.

In this day and age of Facebook, broadband internet, e-mail, cell phones, and dozens of other ways of communication, this film makes one wonder just how the hell does this happen?

“Dreams of a Life,” doesn’t seek to provide solid answers to that question, but gives us a glimpse into Joyce’s life through people who apparently thought they knew her. It seems Joyce was different things to different people, and allowed no one to get close enough to find out who the “real” Joyce Vincent was.

This was not an easy film to watch. Of course, the viewer knows going in that this will not be a film that’ll leave you laughing and smiling when you leave the theater. Even still, it is tough to see her former boyfriend admit that had they gotten married, she might still be alive. Or close friends not realizing she was being abused until years after of the fact. The hardest might be knowing that Joyce had four older sisters who didn’t even bother to inquire about her after not seeing her for years.

“Dreams of a Life” is a film that challenges one’s perception of what it means to really “know” somebody. How closely do we value our friends? If we went missing for a prolonged period of time, would someone come searching for us? Do we believe our presence in society to be greater than it actually is? All things to think about.


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