Profile: Carol Morley

Profile: Carol Morley

Director of documentary-drama Dreams of a Life

1966, Stockport, England.

The sister of music critic Paul Morley, film director Carol left school aged 16 to pursue a career as a singer in various post-punk Mancunian bands. Having studied fine art film at Central Saint Martins College of Art in London during her mid-20s, she made her documentary debut in 2000 with the BAFTA-nominated The Alcohol Years, an account of her own troubled Manchester youth. Her first fictional feature Edge examined a group of characters trapped at a cliff-top English hotel in winter and was selected for the London Film Festival in 2010. Her compelling new documentary-drama Dreams of a Life explores the mysterious case of Joyce Vincent, a thirtysomething Londoner whose body lay undisturbed for nearly three years in a North London flat, until it was discovered in January 2006.

On her own connection to Joyce Vincent
‘In making the film I discovered lots of personal links to Joyce. Her family often used to call her Carol, which is my name. We’d once lived on the same street in London. Her mother had died at 41, which is the same age which my Dad died at, and we were both 11 years old when we lost a parent.’

On cinema and beauty
‘When I discovered how beautiful Joyce was, I was so pleased, because I knew people would be more interested in her. Edgar Allan Poe said the death of a beautiful woman was the most poetic topic of all, and that comment is still relevant to today.’

On filming interviews
‘I didn’t want to film people in their houses with lots of clutter, so we did the interviews in a studio, with a blown-up A-to-Z map as a backdrop, to convey how Joyce moved across the capital.’

Interesting fact
Morley first met the musician Barry Adamson, the composer of Dreams of a Life, at a nightclub when she was 15.

Dreams of a Life Trailer

Dreams of a Life

  • 3 stars
  • 2011
  • UK
  • 1h 35min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Carol Morley
  • Cast: Zawe Ashton, Neelam Bakshi, Jonathan Harden
  • UK release: 16 December 2011

After Joyce Vincent died in her North London bedsit, her body lay undiscovered for three years. Filmmaker Morley sets out to learn about this little-known woman in a film which speaks volumes about the profound mysteries of other peoples’ lives.

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