Penélope Cruz, Martin Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Danny DeVito co-star in this wry look at an obsessed man who will do anything to make his passion-filled dream life a reality. Gary Sheller (Freeman) is caught in a midli... more »fe crisis: dead-end job, depressing life and a deteriorating relationship with his girlfriend Dora (Paltrow). That is, until he meets Anna (Cruz), the girl of his dreams. Able to see her only while asleep, Gary seeks out an expert on lucid dreaming techniques (DeVito) who agrees to help Gary carry on the most satisfying relationship of his life. But as Gary continues to shun reality, his waking life troubles only worsen in this illuminating dark comedy.« less
Jerry S. from OCEANSIDE, CA Reviewed on 6/29/2016...
W0W! Loved It!
Jeremy G. Reviewed on 1/25/2011...
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Different and Great for It
Patrick S. Murphy | Perkasie, PA United States | 04/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Last reviewer didn't leave much of a review. This movie is different. Know that going into and be ok with it and you'll love it. There's nothin inherently BAD about this film unless you don't enjoy films that explore unique topics (such as lucid dreaming). It's the story of a man who yearns to escape from his dull life and the lack of faith and constant criticism from his girlfriend and best friend.
Very enjoyable film, and has an ending that leaves you feeling like you just watched something with a purpose and a meaning. I don't know, maybe it's a love it/hate it kind of a movie but I definitely loved it. Martin Freeman is a really great actor!"
Safely slumbering in a black padded room
nonlinearize | the third coast, usa | 04/18/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
The Good Night is about a man who seeks to cultivate in his dreams the life and love he doesn't know how to achieve in reality. To my knowledge, only one other film has been made with Lucid Dreaming as a subject, the excellent 2002 philosophical trip Waking Life. Lucid dreaming is essentially the ability to "wake up" while dreaming, to become aware of the fact that one is dreaming, and even to exert some control over dream content. There are a number of techniques, developed by ancient Buddhists and modern psychologists, which can be used to induce and prolong lucid dreams. Two of the most common tricks are featured in The Good Night, but neither one is intelligently portrayed or described at any length. A more insightful presentation of lucid dreaming would have made the film more engaging for me. Instead the subject is primarily used as a plot device.
As it is, The Good Night does do a number of things well. The film is populated by believable though unlikable characters who are adept at pointing out other people's faults, but incapable of acknowledging their own. Through consistent though casual attention to detail, the film excels at portraying the nuances of day-to-day life and conversation, and is laced with irony and subtle dark comedy. The Good Night shares much of its basic thematic structure with 2006's The Science of Sleep, but without the manic whimsical melancholy of that film. While some reviewers have said they thought it boring, I found The Good Night's darkly funny character drama to be pretty engaging. And although the slow rising emotional tone had little resonance, I continue to think about the film's suggestion that perhaps before awakening, some may have to fall more deeply asleep...
For those interested, good books about lucid dreaming include Jeff Warren's The Head Trip, Namkhai Norbu's Dream Yoga, Carlos Castaneda's The Art of Dreaming, Sleeping, Dreaming, and Dying edited by F.J. Varela, and a range of titles by Stephen LaBerge.
Surrealist Dramedy Falls Way Short Due to a Muddy Execution
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 05/06/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"It's pretty obvious that first-time director/screenwriter Jake Paltrow was heavily inspired by Michel Gondry's surreal, off-kilter work in The Science of Sleep and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind in making this downbeat 2007 dramedy. Barely in theaters before heading right to DVD, the film works on an intriguing (albeit unoriginal) premise but is then undermined by a muddy execution and unlikable characters despite some nice visuals. The plot concerns put-upon Gary, a TV commercial jingle writer who was once an `80's Britpop star. His professional life has become a drudge as he begrudgingly works with his best pal and former bandmate Paul, who has sold his soul to become a successful advertising executive. Meanwhile, life at home is no picnic since Gary has to suffer from the constant passive-aggressive derision of his frumpy, needling girlfriend Dora.
Into this emotional void, Gary starts to have vivid dreams of a beautiful fantasy woman named Anna, who turns out to have a basis in reality. It's no wonder that Gary seeks the counsel of a "lucid dreaming" expert from New Jersey named Mel who helps him find ways to elongate the dreams for fear of having them evaporate entirely. Once all this is all established, Paltrow lets the film flail around in a series of frustrating scenes that have Gary turning more and more into an emotional zombie. Moreover, the marked contrast between Dora and Anna comes across as overstated with the result being complete indifference toward both women. Paltrow also uses a framing device of documentary-like testimonials from colleagues in Gary's past, a technique that doesn't make sense until the abrupt ending. None of the principal actors are terribly remarkable here except Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) who brings a much-needed energetic brio to the comically unsavory role of Paul. His cutting scenes with Gary are the best the movie offers.
As Gary, Martin Freeman (BBC's The Office, Breaking and Entering) is likeably dweeby at first, though he doesn't make credible his past as a debauched rock star. Danny DeVito merely plays a plot device in his customary matter and not much more as Mel. No matter how gorgeous she is (and she truly is in this film), Penélope Cruz is given short shrift by the script, so much so that her character remains incoherent and incomplete. But ironically, a worse fate befalls the filmmaker's famous sister Gwyneth, who has been so deglamorized as Dora as to render her character nearly unsalvageable. Granted there are some funny, off-the-cuff bits like Dora reacting to Gary's maniacal installation of foam over the bedroom windows by asking if it comes in white or Gary inexplicably reading The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Iraq in bed, but there isn't enough such cleverness to sustain the film. At 93 minutes, it actually feels overlong. The 2008 DVD provides a rather inchoate commentary from Jake Paltrow that is not very insightful."
A Modern Day Fairytale With a Twist
Rudy Palma | NJ | 05/01/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Jake Paltrow's "The Good Night," new to DVD, is a modern day fairytale of sorts primed to resonate with the insomniac in all of us. Paltrow may be principally famous because of his famous parents and superstar sister, whom he casts swimmingly, but he proves with this screenwriting debut that he is the real deal when it comes to writing as well as directing. "The Good Night" is original yet familiar, enigmatic yet straightforward, dark yet comical.
British actor Martin Freeman is Gary Sheller, a disheartened has-been musician writing cheap instrumentals for commercial advertisements in New York City. He lives with his endlessly negative, poisonous girlfriend Dora, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, who only serves to discourage him further. One can sense that both are equally self-loathing, thus resigned to each others' company in lieu of the hardship of single life. Gary stagnates even further while his boss and former bandmate Paul, a sordid, self-absorbed skuzz portrayed by Simon Pegg, seems to get ahead in life with little to no effort.
His anxiety drips into his dreams, and when the gray skies part he's left with Anna, an other-worldly, breathtakingly beautiful woman played by Penelope Cruz. She is lovely, supportive and nurturing - everything that Dora is not. The only problem, however, is that she exists only in Gary's dreams, turning every night into a secret rendezvous. In effort to make sense of it all he turns to Mel, played by the fantastic Danny DeVito. A self-appointed expert on lucid dreaming techniques, he takes Gary on a field trip to a mattress warehouse and warns him to avoid sleeping pills at all costs if he wishes to continue his nightly liaisons.
What makes "The Good Night" particularly endearing is that its new-agey tendencies come across as not only believable but fully relatable. Jake Paltrow transforms New York City into an extension of Gary's dream state, and the results never fail to take unexpected, engaging directions. Freeman makes his protagonist the consummate burned-out everyman seeking a new lease on life, but the script goes much deeper than that. Cruz and Paltrow are outstanding, yet DeVito's presence alone makes the film worth a rental.
Entertaining from the first frame to the last, "The Good Night" is leaps and bounds above standard cookie-cutter fare. With a killer script and a formidable cast that make it all look deceivingly easy, the film charms and amuses in equally generous doses.