Sunday, December 30, 2012

Review: "Sleepwalk With Me"

If you've ever known someone who sleepwalks you may have enjoyed a few odd and often hilarious conversations, a few poorly guarded secrets revealed and/or a midnight milk trip or two.  It's often said that you should not wake a sleepwalker unless they are about to be a danger to themselves or others (like, say, about to drive a car).  In very rare cases, you may encounter what is called REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder.  This is a very rare condition where the person sleeping acts out the scenes in their mind while sleeping.

Comic Mike Birbiglia has exactly this problem.

I first encountered this story while listening to an episode of This American Life a few months ago.  Birbiglia, a comedian and writer/actor, has suffered for years under a condition which sees him acting out fantastical scenes in his head. While many of us have very strange dreams, it's not often that we find ourselves standing on the media unit, about to accept the Olympic gold medal for dust-busting   Birbiglia, fortunately, does.  And just as fortunately, he seems to be part cat because the climax of this film is decidedly more physical than one would expect.

Produced by Jacob Gaffke (This American Life) and with the support of hipster godling Ira Glass, this film screened at Sundance and in fact won the NEXT Audience Award as well as the South by Southwest Festival.  Ultimately what makes this film enjoyable is the affability of Birbiglia and the amiability of his secondary characters (even those that would be otherwise unexciting).  While Birbiglia seems to be milking this troublesome condition for all it's worth (his comedy act, first book and this film all cover the story), ultimately the film just works.  Perhaps a tad bit slow at the start, interesting towards the middle and absolutely engrossing by the end, this one is worth watching if only for the final scene.

My rating: 3 stars out of 4

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