The entire script is like that. People talk, but they are not saying anything. Sadly, this extends to a Corin Nemec cameo. Mind you, he is as charismatic and fabulous as ever, but his main scene could be left on the cutting room floor, and nothing would have changed. It is just a scene about these characters talking apropos of nothing else. As Commentary! The Musical put it, “that’s like breaking the ninth wall.”
Ditthavong’s shortcoming as a writer extends to the plot as well. Sleeping In Plastic is overstuffed with subplots that lead nowhere. A rather odd story thread finds Brandon’s wrestling coach Baker (Nick Chinlund) hiring Pearla, then denying it to Brandon. This connection does not offer anything to the story at large and grinds the momentum to a halt.
“The dialogue is all vague expressions, which never means all that much.”
While the dialogue is wooden and the story does not stand out against titles with similar premises, the acting is quite good. Addison Timlin gives the performance of her career as Pearla. While she is straddled with unrealistic dialogue, she is charming and fun, meaning that everyone’s lust for her makes total sense. MacNicoll has a moment or two that is bland, namely, whenever he’s interacting with the Ellie character. However, he makes the stoicism of Brandon an admirable trait and is a believable everyman.
Plus, Ditthavong is a stronger visual stylist than he is a writer. The way he plays with shadow to isolate Brandon, even when he’s in a room full of people is impressive. Shots of neon signs blinking against a night sky recalls to mind the grandiose spectacle of Walter Hill movies and add a moody, neo-noir atmosphere to everything. Sleeping In Plastic is gorgeous to look at and elevates the leaden script.
On paper, Sleeping In Plastic should have been a home run. Its direction is dreamy, the cast is excellent, and the score is the best thing in the film. But there are too many subplots that go nowhere, and the dialogue between characters is unnatural and inauthentic.