The Numb Life of Sleepwalking
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/10/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"New director William Maher and writer Zac Stanford previously worked together in THE CHUMSCRUBBER and the similarity of vision is apparent in SLEEPWALKING: both films deal with the empty shells of hollow people aimlessly seeking connection in a world that has become foreign territory. It is a dark, cold, brooding film that somehow manages to maintain our attention with the hope that the gloomy tunnel though which the characters are passing will have a semblance of light at the end.
Joleen (Charlize Theron) is the inadequate, loving-but-inconstant mother of twelve-year-old Tara (AnnaSophia Robb) whose reckless an aimless life leads to constant moving and lack of roots. Evicted form her latest residence Joleen and Tara move in with Joleen's younger brother James (Nick Stahl) whose similarly aimless life is defined by a trashy apartment and a mindless construction work job. Tara is sullen, disappointed in her mother's erratic, irresponsible behavior, and when Joleen once again takes off 'on a new idea', Tara is left with James - trying to figure out an existence for survival. James loses his job due to absenteeism, takes up residence in the filthy basement of his nerdy co-worker Randall (Woody Harelson), while the town cop (Mathew St. Patrick) reluctantly places Tara in a foster home to await the return of Joleen. Tara prefers life with James to her 'imprisonment' and the two take off on a road trip, seeking some degree of happiness and love in a world gone berserk. When James runs out of money, he heads to his old home farm for refuge, an unlikely endpoint as his and Joleen's childhood was warped by their abusive farmer father (Dennis Hopper). The return to the farm, James hopes, will provide connection to Tara's past, but instead it results in a tragedy that ultimately moves Tara back to her 'home' and to Joleen, while James drives off into the unknown future, finally awakened from his sleepwalking through life.
The film is as bleak as the flat and snowy countryside (the film was shot in Canada's winter) and that countryside reflects the desperate loneliness of the characters. The small cast offers solid portrayals with the work of Nick Stahl being the standout performance. Theron, Robb, Harelson, Hopper, and Deborra-Lee Furness (in a small but poignant role) make the best of a shaky script. This is a mood piece and can become depressing if the viewer expects resolution of the sad and empty lives the characters lead. But there is a haunting quality to the look of the film that stays with the viewer, especially in the mystery in the eyes of the character James as he drives into an unknown but awakened future. Grady Harp, July 08"
"Sleepwalking" is Sure to Wake You Up
Joel Ramnaraine | Orlando FL, USA | 08/03/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There's no doubt that I'm unlike many teenage boys out there today. Rather than hitting theaters for the hottest action-packed thrillers, I seem to be drawn to indie films of this nature. Here's a storyline that you don't see very often. Not getting into a summary, the film was extremely well produced and the acting was phenomenal. The viewer understands Stahl's innocent confusion and Theron's deep insecurities. For AnnaSophia Robb, you can be assured that this is a side of her the public has not yet seen. Skeptical of how persuasive her performance would be, the young actress doesn't disappoint as she proves that she can be just as gritty and dark as she was fun, perky, and easy to love in Walt Disney's, "Bridge to Terabithia." The actors could not have done a better job. I laughed at every intentional corny joke and chocked up right on point. The film takes a realistic look at how screwed up life can be with just the right amount of redemption to keep you going. Be warned, however, if you're the type that needs closure and/or a happy ending, this probably isn't the film for you. Though the storyline takes on a slower pace at certain points in the film, you realize that it is necessary in ensuring that the tone is kept at an appropriate level, right where it should be. Nevertheless, you'll walk away speechless. The cinematography is incredible--the entire film appeared raw and unfiltered. Juxtaposed with a captivating score, the emotion will somehow find its way leaping off the screen and hitting you in all the right places, at the right moments. There was possibly one major song in the film (which was repeated during the end credits) that seemed to be the perfect fit. And though I know a film is never 100% perfect, I personally don't think it could get any better. "Sleepwalking," is sure to wake you up--definitely a movie worth seeing.
Recommendations: If you enjoyed this, check out "Undertow" starring Jamie Bell and Josh Lucas."
A Sad Story With A Bit of Hope In The End
Katrina L. Burchett | Florida | 04/18/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Joleen (Charlize Theron) is a woman with a nasty mouth who seems to want to make good choices, but because she's hanging onto past hurts, she makes one bad choice after the next. It's obvious that she loves her daughter, but since she's so lost she just doesn't know how to be a good mother. Her brother James (Nick Stahl) is a sweetheart - a cool, calm, collected, good-hearted man who just can't seem to get his life together. Tara (AnnaSophia Robb) is stuck between her Mom and Uncle James. She's an unhappy little lady with no real choices.
This movie was much different than what I expected. After watching the preview, I thought James and Tara were going to escape their troubles, start over and be happy with their new lives. But what they do is go from a bad situation to one much worse. James' father (Dennis Hopper) is an evil man who cares nothing about his family. Once he was introduced I could see why Joleen was so troubled, why she was so desperate for a man's love and especially why she had that nasty mouth. I also understood why James was like a scared little boy in a man's body.
I cannot say I enjoyed this movie, but I won't say that I totally disliked it. I felt for Joleen, James and Tara, I will say that. Their story was so sad, but there was a bit of hope in the end.
Parents: There is profanity, a sexual situation(not graphic)and the violence is not extreme compared to most movies these days.