Willem Dafoe: Major Romantic & Erotic Dream Figure
carol irvin | United States | 05/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Writer-director Paul Schrader delivers his most satisfying film for me. He is even better known for his work when he solely screenwriters, such as for his unsurpassed "Taxi Driver," directed by his frequent collaborator, Marty Scorsese. For his own solo film though, this is my favorite. Schrader's film work is frequently compared to the late Robert Bresson's films. However, Bresson has always been a little too painterly for me. Schrader is painterly enough and to make it any more so evokes that dreaded word in film: slow. I frankly prefer this film to the Bresson films I've seen, which makes me a film heretic I realize. Urban alienation is at the core of this film, which is true of all Schrader's work, and Willem Dafoe plays a nocturnal drug dealer who doesn't get much sleep (hence the title), probably because his dreams remain so elusive from his grasp, as a metaphor for the overall film. Two women present the immediate conflict in the film. Susan Sarandon plays a drug dealer who Dafoe works for and she tells him that they both need to get out of dealing. She plans to open a legitimate cosmetics business and seems capable of following through on the idea. She is the most in control of her life of the three main characters. Dana Delany plays Dafoe's former lover, who doesn't want anything to do with him because they were substance abusers together in the past. Although he's clean now, he still deals. But is her character as squeaky clean as she now proclaims to be? Dafoe needs to figure that out. Further tension comes about from the eroticism between Dafoe and Delany plus the growing potential for eroticism between Dafoe and Sarandon. Dafoe is absolutely wonderful in this film and becomes a major romantic and erotic dream figure for the viewer regardless of what the viewer thinks of him vis a vis the two women."
Diff D | York, PA United States | 07/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Unusual in the usual world of American movie theater. Thought provoking and very consequential, certainly not unpredictable but somehow enriching and very humane. The characters of drug dealers turn out to be very likeable and egzistential.
There are many weaknesses in this plot - violent end seems to be repeating "Taxi Driver" in a sort of casual "Crime And Punishment" way, nevertheless it is very simplistic. Drug dealer is apparently more in a character of Paul Schreader than a realistic immersion into the psyche of a drug dealer. The main character narates too much as if we have a problem to understand his actions, unnecessary in my view. And there is a genuine bad guy as if to create the vent for the eventual explosion at the end. He is reduced to inhumanity perhaps to underline the humanity of others that some of us would have trouble accepting. All in all few weak places and yet because these types of intelligent movies are so rare, it is so much beyond the typical Holywood entertainment sewer. All the actors are doing great work as expected."
Greekfreak | Pusan Korea (South) | 06/11/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I can watch this film at the drop of a hat and not mind that I've seen it a million times. It's not my favourite film, and I have more than a few criticisms of it, but overall, it's one that I'm glad I own.The acting is fine--Susan Sarandon and Willem Dafoe always are--and Dany Delany does a credible job, but the real star is the screenplay, which was written by the director Paul Schrader. It's endlessly quotable, realistic, funny, and at times thought-provoking.The soundtrack is marred by having the same no-name singer (who's trying so desperately to ape Bryan Ferry) all throughout--and I thought Vonda Sheppard was lousy--but the incidental music is nice.Completely overlooked, and well worth the rental."
"It's cologne. I'm a sucker for that airplane stuff."
J from NY | New York | 11/04/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie really is a mixed bag. I'd been looking for it for years, and I suppose expectations had far exceeded the actual film. Paul Schrader never fails to deliver in terms of gritty reality with some actual morals ("Taxi Driver", of course, is the best example), so maybe I expected another "Taxi".
The amazing thing about this film is the sharp, sharp contrast between the plot and the way the characters act. William Dafoe plays a drugdealer, and Susan Sarandon plays his main connection, but at no point do we see either of them as villains. Eating Chinese, yucking it up, laughing with one another about the old days and certain forms of art, there are moments when you think you're watching a sitcom rather than a movie about a guy with a vendetta trying to climb out of the sewer of dealing/addiction.
John (Dafoe's character) has some real bright shiny moments, and I'm not kidding. It's like he's the Mr. Rogers of drugdealers. This fat guy is whigging out on coke and crystal meth and Dafoe goes, "I remember when your wife was here, when you had a life. Come on". What is he, a drug counselor? The jazz music just don't work as well as it did in "Taxi", because nothing is really going on that seems all that dreadful.
There is a reality check, however, amongst the "Friends" atmosphere the film creates. Dafoe's former lover, who now shuns him, gets strung out after her mother dies and jump off a hotel balcony owned by one of Susan Sarandon's customers. Hence Dafoe's decision to buy a gun.
I have to say I've never seen anything quite like this. It manages to turn drugdealers into characters from "Today's Special". It doesn't glorify it or not glorify it. You have to see this movie to believe it.
Its climax seems to belong to another movie
David Bonesteel | Fresno, CA United States | 05/20/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"John LeTour (Willem Dafoe) is a recovered drug addict who spends his lonely life drifting around the city by night, delivering drugs for his boss, Ann (Susan Sarandon). He worries about his future, but he is firmly enmeshed in a lifestyle from which escape does not seem like a realistic option. A bit of hope creeps back into his life when he encounters an old flame (Dana Delany) from his days as a user and the possibility of rekindled romance becomes his lifeline. This is a very low-key film for most of its length, but its climactic explosion of violence provides a jarring change of pace that plays as if writer/director Paul Schrader couldn't figure out how to end the film. Delany's character is rather off-handedly changed from a figure with real dramatic purpose to a mere plot point that sets up the justification for a bloodbath. The performances are excellent and Schrader is a talented filmmaker, but he falters here./"