The Sleepwalker – A decent indie psycho drama that could have been great
Written by: Mona Fastvold and Brady Corbet
Directed by: Mona Fastvold
Starring: Gitte Witt, Christopher Abbott, Stephanie Ellis, and Brady Corbet
Kaia (Witt) and Andrew (Abbott) are a young couple that are renovating Kaia’s childhood home. One night Kaia gets a phone call from her estranged sister Christine (Ellis) who tells her she is at the local train station. Kaia drives to the station, picks her up and is shocked to learn that Christine is both engaged and pregnant. The next day, Christine’s fiance Ira (Corbet) shows up and the two of them, at Kaia’s invitation, stay the night. Then they stay the next night… and the next night… etc. During this time old secrets are brought up, and painful memories surface.
I LOVE movies where everything seems slightly off, and although you can’t put your finger on it you get the feeling something really terrible is going to happen. “The Sleepwalker” has that tension in spades. There is an eerie vibe that you just can’t shake, and I loved every moment of anticipation waiting to see what the end game was. The problem was that there was no end game. All of the boiling anger, uncomfortable dialogue, and sexual tension between the four characters just leads up to nothing. No questions are answered (and not in that cool way that scrambles your brain and leads to you talking about the movie with your friends). Just a lot of enjoyable build up with no pay off.
There are a few strong points. The acting by all four actors is solid. I especially enjoyed Christopher Abbott’s turn as the working class, high school drop out opposite Corbet’s snobby, well to do Ira. Abbott does an amazing job at seething with anger at both the unwelcome company and the unwelcome advances that Ira makes on his girlfriend. It was an interesting switch from his character on HBO’s “Girls” and I am interested to see him in more lead roles.
The score is wonderful and adds to the dark tone of the film. The cinematography is gorgeous. The pieces to a great psychological drama are all there. There is just such a let down in the end. Fastvold seems to have quite a bit of talent as a director, and I will most assuredly watch her next film. This one, in the end, just narrowly missed the mark for me.