The Innocent Sleep

on June 27, 1997 by Lael Loewenstein
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   A moody thriller that might have been a very good picture, "The Innocent Sleep" is loosely based on the Roberto Calvi affair of 1982. In that incident, an Italian banker was found hanging near the banks of London's Thames River. First presumed a suicide, the death was later revealed to be murder, with a complex international conspiracy behind it.
   Rupert Graves ("The Madness of King George") plays homeless man Alan Terry, an inadvertent witness to the grisly murder. Though Alan tries to report the crime to the police, he soon learns that the web of organized crime extends much wider and deeper than he thought. When a friend puts him in touch with journalist Billie Hayman (a chain-smoking Annabella Sciorra of "The Cure"), Alan, with no one else to turn to, tells her what he knows.
   Both Sciorra and Graves elevate the material, he bringing considerable empathy to his part and she a measured toughness, though her underwritten role could have used fleshing-out. And the rarely seen Franco Nero ("Camelot") makes an intriguingly menacing heavy. Good as they are, the actors can't keep the film's third act in focus. Director Scott Michell uses familiar but tired dramatic devices to enhance suspense, crosscutting between Alan, unknowingly in jeopardy, and Billie, making thwarted attempts to save him. Alan Dunlop's evocatively lit, blue-hued cinematography stylishly enhances the story's eerie underpinnings. By contrast, Mark Ayres' score, with its tendency toward sweeping arias, is much too over-orchestrated. Restraint in the music, as in the acting, would have helped make "The Innocent Sleep" a little better. Starring Annabella Sciorra, Rupert Graves, Michael Gambon and Franco Nero. Directed by Scott Michell. Written by Ray Villis and Derek Trigg. Produced by Matthew Vaughn and Scott Michell. A Trident release. Thriller. Rated R. Running time: 98 min
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