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11th February 2013 09:00:00
Posted by Sarah Brown

Dreams of a Life - Review

A poignant documentary about a woman who died in her flat and was left undiscovered for three years.
“Would anyone miss you?”

This poignant documentary about a 40-year-old woman who lay dead in her flat for three years highlights just how dangerously individualistic modern society is becoming.

Joyce Vincent was wrapping Christmas presents in front of the TV when she died in 2003. Her body lay decomposing for three years before she was eventually found by bailiffs who were repossessing her flat after she failed to make rent payments. No-one was aware that she had been lying there dead for so long. Neighbours even noticed a horrific smell coming from her apartment but none of them reported it.

This documentary retraces the steps of Joyce’s life, from her childhood until her body was found, attempting to uncover what happened to her that led to such a heartbreaking end to her life. We hear accounts from people who once knew her, old friends and colleagues who eventually lost touch with her and were shocked by what happened.

Zawe Ashton (Fresh Meat) stars as Joyce in recreated scenes of her life, as the documentary tries to piece together what happened to this lonely woman who appeared to have more going on behind-the-scenes than she let on. A far cry from the mouthy Vod in Fresh Meat, Ashton performs well in creating a strikingly moving picture of Joyce, and we get a feel for what her life might have been like before her tragic end.

The worrying question, “would anyone miss you?” remains with us throughout as we learn just how self-centred modern society is, too busy with our own lives to notice the death of someone we work with, socialise with, or who we even live next to. Joyce died wrapping Christmas presents. Who were they for, and why didn’t they notice when she didn’t give them? Her TV was left on for 3 years while she lay dead in front of it. Didn’t anyone find it unusual to hear such a noise all through the day and night? Dreams of a Life highlights these questions, and to what extent a selfish society is now a reality; hopefully Joyce Vincent’s story is one which will haunt us into taking action to change this.

More info on the official Dreams of a Life website and the documentary is available to watch on 4OD.

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