Whilst making the Dreams of a Life, Morely spent years collecting and piecing together testimonials recounted by Joyce’s now guilt-ridden friends and ex-lovers. These stories describe her as being a drifter. She is portrayed as enigmatic; both the life and soul of the party, and mysterious, almost secretive all at once. Those telling the stories seemed to have been enraptured by her presence within their lives, and yet each of them – through no real fault of their own – allowed her to drop off their radar.

London can be a lonely place, for anyone. Not least for a woman who lost her mother at an early age, and became estranged from her remaining family, and her Caribbean and Indian diasporas. It’s unsurprising that Joyce distanced herself from people in the tail end of her short life.

The film begins with a quote from a journalist, when the news story first broke: “it’s the story that everybody wanted, but nobody could get”. Arguably, Joyce’s character is the story that the film is trying to tell. The viewer is left with many questions after watching the film – because so much about her life and death remains shrouded in mystery, years later. Morely reconstructs Joyce’s personality using interview testimonials alongside dramatic reconstructions – some based on these stories, some speculative. These dramatisations touch on the disparities between different interviews, and are at times both humorous and tragic.

Three things attracted me to this film. First and foremost, the chilling story of Joyce’s discovery and its associated mystery. Secondly, Netflix suggested I watch it. Third was Zawe Ashton’s role as Joyce in the film. Though her dialogue is sparse, she seems to truly embody Joyce’s character, and the reconstructed scenes really do support the woman described in each of her friends’ personal accounts. Ashton brings a profound insight of personal experience to the role: the unique kind of loneliness that comes with being mixed race.

I think that the reason this film is so effective, and the story so gripping is that deep down it is a horror story. Not the suddenly-dying-and-your-body-dissolving-into-a-dark-shadow-on-the-floor aspect, but the realisation of the natural human fear of dying alone. Although Joyce was popular, as evidenced by Morley’s direction, she somehow managed to fall through the cracks. Many of us can relate to Joyce, or even her guilt-ridden friends. Morley broaches the subject with a lightness of touch, and delicate tenacity – enabling her to quietly excavate the many layers that make up Joyce’s character. This creates a sensitive view on a fragile and somewhat terrifying subject, which could have easily been sensationalised if handled by another director.