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Film / Dreams of a Life

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Dreams of a Life is a 2011 British documentary film by director Carol Morley.

It tells the story of a young woman named Joyce Carol Vincent (portrayed by Zawe Ashton), who died alone in her London flat in 2003. Despite having plenty of friends and family, somehow, her body remained undiscovered for three years. It was found next to a shopping bag and surrounded by wrapped Christmas presents that were undelivered. Due to the advanced state of decomposition, Vincent's cause of death was never determined.

Morley was inspired to make the documentary after reading a newspaper article that presented the facts of the case but lacked details as to who Vincent was. Tracking down interviewees to learn more about the woman behind the headline, Morley was surprised to find that many of them didn't even know Vincent was dead until they were informed by her. Having lost touch with Vincent, they just assumed she "was off somewhere having a better life than they were".


The documentary raises the unnerving possibility that anyone could find themselves in a situation where they might die alone and unnoticed as Vincent did.


  • Domestic Abuse: It is believed that Vincent was in hiding from an abusive boyfriend at the time of her death.
  • Downer Ending: The documentary ends with a recreation of the night of Vincent's death. Though it has shed some light on who she was and how she may have come to die in the lonely way she did, there are plenty of questions left that in all likelihood will never be answered.
  • Dying Alone: Vincent did, and what's worse was that no one discovered that she had for three years.
  • Finally Found the Body: Three years after her passing, police broke into Vincent's flat to repossess it, only to find her skeletal remains.
  • Giftedly Bad: Though Vincent had aspirations of becoming a singer, according to a former boyfriend named Alistair (who was a music producer), she wasn't very good at it. However, others who knew her disagree, believing she had a beautiful voice and likening it to that of Whitney Houston.
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  • The Hermit: Vincent was apparently alone by choice. According to her ex-boyfriend Alistair, "Joyce died alone because she wanted to be alone".
  • The Shut-In: Vincent became this in the final years of her life, separating herself from friends and family.
  • Used to Be More Social: In the last years of her life, Vincent isolated herself from those who knew her. It is speculated that this may have been because she felt ashamed due to having had to move into a shelter for victims of domestic abuse.

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