Film Comment Selects 2012: Sleepwalk (1986) Review


An oddly keeled journey through the subconscious passageways of 1980's SoHo, nourished with ancient Chinese spells and the vaguely hostile smell of almonds. The first feature by Sara Driver, Jim Jarmusch's spouse and occasional collaborator, explores the phosphorescent discharge of a sacred nursery rhyme. Driver's work while not as overtly oft-kilter as Jarmusch's shares a similar meld of fantasy and reality - the trip carries eccentricities on its shoulder, in full charismatic display.

Nicole works a tediously overbearing job in a print shop, transcribing documents onto the glowing screen of a word processor. The phones inanely ring, the boss munches potato skins and Steve Buscemi plays with slides in the back; the routine wears on all involved. Not long into the tedium, an infection stirs, brought forth by a mysterious Chinese teacher and his servant, played by a spindly Tony Todd in his first role. 

 The infection manifests in an ancient nursery rhyme, a transient mysticism which unhinges the world, if ever so slightly.As reality shifts the characters take it in turn, SoHo has its oddities and the strange is met with a dead-pan tilt of the head, a cast off I've-seen-wackier shrug that spirals into acceptance of this corporeal estrangement. Night deepens and a crepuscular miasma takes hold, ushering the shuffle of feet onward through the destitute neon. 

 Seek not answers, nor objective construction. Cast off reason, and inhale the scent of almonds. 

 Sleepwalk screens Wed Feb 29 @ 9:00 pm as part of Film Comment Selects: Buy Tickets
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