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For those of you who thought that Last Year at Marienbad, Inland Empire, The Tracey Fragments and Slipstream weren't challenging enough-- The Perfect Sleep has your name written all over it.
Essentially the movie is a cinematic version of the ACT test. Except instead of those pointless prep courses for which anxious parents shell out tons of dollars only for their teens to be told to guess if they don't know the answer-- a viewer well-versed in film noir figures they'll be more than prepared for The Perfect Sleep no guessing required.
Yet, this couldn't be further from the truth as this irritating movie is sure to perplex even the most die-hard noir and neo-noir enthusiasts. And it's especially troubling when you're faced with the ultimate realization that-- unlike the Rubik's Cube which I read that some people finally broke in frustration just to glue it back together to produce the full color sides-- in terms of Sleep, we're told right from the start by our self-important narrator that "clever types" will assume that things will make sense or mean something in the end but he's correct when he promises that we're "wrong." Therefore, it doesn't mean a damn thing... only to present a beautiful if nonsensical noir "dreamscape" in which the characters conspire, reveal, fight, fall in love, and inevitably bleed a whole lot.
The Perfect Sleep is more interested in building its labyrinthine puzzle with zero regard for logic or ensuring the audience will be able to find their way through the obstacle heavy maze, let alone actually worrying about whether or not we care about those involved in the drama.
While the plot-line is so convoluted and inexplicable, there's no way I can even manage to boil it down without the aid of CliffsNotes, the screenplay, access to the filmmakers, and more bandwidth-- essentially it centers on a man who returns "out of the past" after an absence of a decade.
Fond of staring at windmills for no particular reason other than-- like everything else in the movie-- it provides memorable eye candy for cinematographer Charles Papert, we learn that our protagonist is our overly chatty narrator Pardoe.
"Like Winston Churchill told me," and near-filmmaker commentary as he acknowledges a cliche but points out that the given imagery is dug by the French and shares that he digs "the French" as well.
Sin City, a tough guy cop who has a thing for dames that look like Veronica Lake in The Blue Dahlia and The Glass Key, and several other "types" divided into various groups and alliances in a Guy Ritchie fashion.
Yet, mostly I gave up trying to follow along and instead gave into the atmospheric approach-- helplessly numb as the film continued with delusions of grandeur like a non-musical opera that makes you wonder how on Earth the cast and crew were able to get through the shoot without cracking up (both into laughter or simply out of frustration) by just how completely wooden and plodding the film was as a whole.
While I'm always attracted to exploring the latest from the noir genre and Magnolia Films is one of my all-time favorite independent distributors for their bravery in backing unconventional works (as this one is released under their "Magnet" label), honestly I have no idea how it gained financing in the first place except for the fact that perhaps-- blinded by the shiny Rubick's Cube puzzle and admiration for the genre-- nobody wanted to admit that they had absolutely no idea what Pardoe and Alter's work was really about.
While no doubt it may have been much more successful given a complete rewrite of the script-- more often than not as we witnessed another monologue following a kung fu smack-down that found our narrator left for dead-- the words of Eva Mendes from the disastrous Frank Miller effort The Spirit filled my head as I wanted to advise him to just "shut up and bleed" already... or at least go back to look at those damn windmills.