You can read my review from last night here
After sleeping on it, I realized that the notion that the entire movie from the start was a dream (with the only non-dream part being the very end when his eyes open) is a more harmonious interpretation.
I didn’t like this explanation at first because I always feel like “It was all a dream” stories are such a cop out. While it was easier to accept that the movie was only partially a dream, this didn’t explain Sofia’s voice appearing at the very start of the film on his radio. If you were to follow the basic explanation given by the film (that he is indeed frozen), the waking sequence in the beginning is pre-Sofia no matter what.
The dream from the start interpretation solves the problem of the fantastical nature of the cryostasis storyline.
Aames re-examining his life through a piecing of his memory in a dream. The movie begins with Aames plucking a grey hair out in horror. In the iconic ghost town Time Square sequence (which in itself is a commentary on wealth and emptiness) hes driving a Vintage 1962 Ferrari GTO, much more expensive than the Mustang (which has a registration sticker date of 2/30/01, a date that doesn’t exist) he’s seen in the rest of the film. Even in his dreams, he wants to be wealthier and better looking.
He sees the photos on Sofia’s fridge and proclaims he likes her life. At first it seems like a ploy to score some points. But the look on his face reveals the truth. She has photos with her and her parents. All he has is a gigantic painting of his father and the original Monet his mother once bought that are worthless to him. Sofia’s character is there to help him see what he really wants.
But it’s not that easy. He is shown the results of his life focus when he decides to get in the car with Julie (who is presented as a bad choice that constantly follows him. His stalker.) It sucks him in again and he goes to her. The result destroys his number one weapon, his vanity.
His savior Sofia returns and gives it to him straight. He has to pull it the fuck together because anything good he has coming to him can leave him in an instant.
Aames begins to be aware that he is dreaming as the film progresses, which I think what we do in our sleep. Have you ever started to realize you were dreaming before you wake? I know I have. It also explains the jumping off the building to wake himself up. We’ve all experienced a dream where we’re jolted from our sleep.
This leaves us with a more hopeful story, where Aames can still change his life in the present and be with Sofia. But now we are left with the question, is Sofia actually real? How about Brian?
Tech Support told us he created idealized relationships from music, movies and images that impacted him. If one is to assume that his psychiatrist is completely fictional, we could also assume Brian and Sofia are too.
Brian appears as the less confident other half of Aames. And this seems to hint that Brian is actually the egoless version of Aames. They’re part of the same person.
Brian tells Aames that Aames owns him because he’s paying him to write. Aames responds by saying that it’s untrue, and that Brian is brilliant and doesn’t see it yet. (As Aames owns the company, he does indeed pay himself. Brian represents his lack of confidence of continuing his father’s legacy.)
Brian gets upset that the superego Aames stole Sofia from him, something that doesn’t seem all that surprisig. (Brian also calls Julie his dream girl in the beginning car sequence.)
When things get positive Brian doesn’t mind being the 3rd wheel. In a bar scene, Brian is video taping the two love birds without explanation as to why he has a camera. Is he trying to separate himself and observe his change? The lines begins to blur between the two as Brian bails him out of jail, now dressed in fancier clothes. Brian throughout the movie proclaims that he is Aames’ only friend.
We are shown Sofia’s mannerisms were taken from films he watched. There is a possibility that her voice is merely the pre-recorded message for his alarm, which explains why it appears in the beginning of the film. A clue being him scolding Julie for recording over it, mocking his alarm clock message. You also notice that Sofia’s parents look nothing like her in the photos and near the end he begins to remember that it was, in fact, Julie’s photos. In the nightclub scene, Sofia is wearing a shirt that says St. Rose, who happens to be the Patron Saint of Vanity.
Finally, on the rooftop scene he wills the characters of his dream to appear. McCabe, then Brian, then Sofia. (We can assume that Julie is real as she does not appear.)
Before he takes the leap to wake up he makes peace with the fact that when he wakes, Sofia will no longer exist.
“I’ll see you in another life, when we’re both cats.”