Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Dreams of a Life - a review of sorts

A year or so ago, someone posted on Facebook about a documentary that was then in production about a woman of Grenadian descent who died in her apartment and, for three years, nobody noticed.  Nobody raised a hue and cry.  Nobody reported her missing.

 Joyce Vincent died in front of her television which was still on when the council finally got around to sending people to re-possess her flat since the rent had gone unpaid for so long.  Imagine that!  Three years and she had lain there, in front of the television, and surrounded by the Christmas presents she'd been wrapping.  It was an amazing story.  I wanted to know how it happened and kept an eye out for the documentary.  Now having seen Dreams of a Life, I have to say it raises more questions than it answered.  Her family refused to participate which, itself, raises big questions but also means that we remain as puzzled at her death now as before.

Joyce Vincent's parents moved to England before she was born and she had three older sisters, if I recall the film correctly.  Her mother died while she was young and she was mostly raised by her sisters.  She grew up into a beautiful young woman with an active social life and an interest in becoming a singer.  Strangely, her friends and boyfriends, all said in the film that she never introduced them to her family.  In fact, they seem to recall that she told them her father was dead but he didn't die until a year after her own death.  Was there some kind of estrangement?  Did it play any role in her death?  There's no way to tell without hearing from the family themselves.

When Joyce was in her thirties, she entered a domestic violence shelter but a couple years later she was living in a small apartment.  The friends she'd had in her twenties were surprised to know this, surprised that she'd become the kind of person who could die, unnoticed.  They all said she didn't drink to excess, didn't take drugs.  What happened?  Because of the condition of her body, her cause of death was undetermined.

This was disturbing.  If it could happen to someone like her, popular and apparently well-liked, could it happen to me?  To anyone I know?  If Joyce had been my friend would I have simply assumed she didn't want to talk and stop calling or would I have come by and ensured that, at least, three years didn't pass?  Who were those people who were supposed to get those presents and did they come looking for her?  Did Joyce, herself, push people away?  If so, why?  Like I said, more questions than answers but kudos to the filmmakers for making us remember and think about our own social connections and the lives we lead.


  1. That is beyond, beyond, beyond belief. i want to view, read or know more someway.

    1. See the movie, Sidne! Netflix might have it. I thought it was terrible, unimaginable and so very, very sad.