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A restless young man who's been drinking, wanders the industrial section of his Brooklyn neighborhood to meet another restless soul of the opposite sex. They drink, laugh, and dance there way into the bedroom. The morning light of the next day exposes them as strangers as now they struggle to keep alive what they wonderfully shared the night before. Written by
`Come on, God. Gimme a break, will ya?' All movies should start this way.
And from there, an affecting love story unfolds in James Savoca's Sleepwalk. Ray, played by Ivan Martin (think Judd Nelson with the charisma turned WAY up), is an upbeat, yet down-on-his-luck, night dweller who happens to cross paths with Drea de Matteo's (Adrianna in The Sopranos) Henry.
In an all-time cute-meet, Ray's rooftop plea to God is perhaps answered when Adrianna, who's working below in her studio, surprises him with a conversation through a ventilation duct. They cannot see each other, but there's an immediate attraction, as Adrianna wistfully asks if Ray's still there after a silent moment. See, she WANTS to talk to Ray. It's a small detail, but it gets you psyched that she's interested.
Henry invites Ray inside, where get-to-know-you chitchat ensues. And all this time, the camera doesn't move for the first 20 minutes. Clearly, it's a wise decision on Savoca's part, allowing the viewer to be a fly on the wall, enjoying the relationship that's developing. Only when Ray is trying to guess Henry's name does the camera track around with Martin, a decision that infuses the film with a nice burst of adrenaline. Moreover, the strength of Martin and de Matteo's performances ring true, as there's not one false or insincere moment in the film. It's a real challenge to confine a film to two characters in one room, but the trio of Savoca, Martin, and de Matteo pull it off perfectly.
It's the little moments between Ray and Henry that will keep you cheering: the aforementioned moment where they meet, a hilarious episode where they shave each other, Ray's remarks about Henry cuddling him with her feet. Of course, there's the indelible image of Ray and Henry lying on the floor where an American flag has been painted. This classic imagery, beautifully captured by George Motz, is accented by the simple detail of Ray and Henry taking each other's hand.
With touching performances and sensitive direction, Sleepwalk is the very definition what's best and what's possible in real independent filmmaking.
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