Words need not apply to this overly drawn-out picture where all 74 suffering minutes become an artificial scramble of missed attempts at isolation, lost love and disintegration. Instead of fighting for the straight theme of a strapping male falling victim to a fatal form of insomnia in the Eden of silence, the writer/director Anthony Stagliano decides he is going to have the characters speak. It’s all rather self-indulgent and leads one to deduce that the author just wants to hear his own words spoken. Big mistake. With the cast trying too hard to hit notes way beyond their reach and the onslaught of purple prosaic monologues and voiceovers, there is not much to cheer for here. Despite a few bright technical elements in the sound design and gaffing, the film is a snore. And unless a producer’s cut comes back with one-fourth the length, it will be a far cry to entreat any audience unless they need a chance to nod off for a few.
Quick cuts from a bathtub to snow on the TV to an awkward futile suicide attempt get the gag reflex ready for what’s to come. Despite the camera’s purposeful out-of-focus manual turns (no you don’t need to fire your ophthalmologist—the blurry images are intended) and the washed out lights replete with halo-like luminance toss you into the POV of the character. But it goes south when the central figure in Arthur Dichter keeps gyrating around like a zombie overdosing on Flintstones Vitamins. He keeps falling and foaming—and that’s before he even starts talking. But pocket that for a sec.
What seems to be a nonlinear decline of a soda vendor (good late-night gig) and his failed relationship with his always-too-scantily-dressed wife (surely she has more than just a bra and panties somewhere in the house) Anna after he can’t seem to doze is much more of an awkward hodgepodge of clips without any thread. Flashbacks, flash-forwards and some introspective moments in the present get undercut by the editor’s need to somehow pace much of the scenes in slow-motion. If the actor can’t carry the film, then why slog through the scenes in double the time? Must we watch the actor’s close-ups and physical movements down some no-name SoCal street at night where nothing happens other than him falling down? Yawn.
The narrator posthumously speaks from the dead through what sounds like a bullhorn and while that tunnel-effect is all well and good, it gets lost in the unctuous stream of consciousness and turns of phrase that reduce it all to philosophical noise. Dichter’s character is preaching about his relevance from an invisible diary while his dearest is slicing with a razor some words from a paperback. Then there is the masturbation routine using some distorted pounding flesh-on-flesh muse off a looped VHS tape. Many times we see Dichter’s hand grabbing for his, er, business. The carnal sounds emitted from the tube are all muffled and hark back to Peanuts teachers. The undecipherable warbling is the best dialogue in the film. The B-roll shots are also deserved of mention as they portray daylight with washed-out tones that become very impressionistic.
I’m uncertain if it was the murdering of the beach chair on the front lawn, or the self-mutilation scenes of female actresses forced to earn their per diems cleaning up blood with their loose and revealing white gowns that cinched the film’s doom. Much of what works are the technical efforts by the gaffer and the sound guy—and, as subordinates, neither could muzzle the characters. Would have been a great short silent film. But as a feature, it never really ventures out of bed.
Distributor: Cinema Epoch
Cast: Sarah Lassez, David Connolly, Michael T. Weiss, Anthony Drazan and Andrea Morris
Director/Screenwriter: Anthony Stagliano
Producer: David Taylor
Running time: 74 min.
Release date: March 19 NY