Overview: A sister’s inexplicable sleepwalking habits cause all-around dissention among two siblings and their significant others. 4 ½ Film; 2014; Not Rated; 91 minutes.
The Story: Kaia (Gitte Witt) and Andrew’s (Christopher Abott) quiet lifestyle is interrupted, beginning with a phone call from Kaia’s half sister, Christine (Stephanie Ellis). Christine’s fiancé, Ira (Brady Corbet) insists on an extended visit at Kaia’s current and Christine’s previous home would be beneficial for alleviating Christine’s night-time walks. Instead, her involuntary actions become more mysterious. The film seems to shift from drama to a thriller, pulling every which way, unable to settle. This inconsistency creates an admirable pace, a jarring feeling. However, this feeling is only is only useful if writers Mona Fastvold and Brady Corbet balance the scales more evenly by notching up the suspense factor. The characters, despite the illness, are shallow and fall perfectly into their predefined puzzle pieces. Yes, you know who ends up together. Yes, he does end up being the man you worried about him becoming. Yes, she is still hiding something. The first three-quarters of the film contain the necessary build-up to lure attention. But it’s unable to come full circle and properly offer any relief; an open-endedness that does not invoke curiosity, but frustration.
It is unfair to judge the actors’ capabilities on the poor development of the story. Separate the actors from this particular film of malformed and shortcoming plot development and you might realize that the cast is meant for greater things. Witt is complex in her frailty. Abott is a speaker through his. Ellis is an uplifting spirit. Corbet is effortlessly charming. These varying strengths form a provocative cast. Although unlikely, I would like to see these actors come together for a different film.
The Tech Specs:
From the first lines that are spoken, an annoying and significant problem reveales itself: sound quality. My speakers were turned all the way up, external noise was down to a minimum, and yet I still could not hear the lines that were spoken. The problem was not with the background music diluting the clarity of the actors, the voice audio was not amplified enough. Without the aid of the closed captions and noise-reducing headphones, I would have missed a great portion of the dialogue. Artistic direction; I support immensely, only if the end product is memorable and compelling. Director Mona Fastvold appears to use The Sleepwalker as a playground of experimentation; haphazardly incorporating unnatural steady shots followed by scenes captured in a manner that is too rough. Her irregular focal points cause more disunity than anything else.
Final Thoughts: If The Sleepwalker could figure out what it wanted to be, the film would have the substance to be worth watching; as opposed to being unpolished and piecemeal.