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By Merle Bertrand | March 23, 2000

A bit down on his luck lately, Ray (Ivan Martin) is out for a drunken late night stumble. Thinking he’s alone amidst an urban jungle of crumbling factories, the haunted, slightly feral night owl shouts down into a random building’s exhaust vent…only to have it shout back. Thus, Ray meets Henrietta (Drea de Matteo), a tough-talking but cute painter who lives tucked away in splendid solitude inside the building Ray happened across. Ray talks his way inside and, after a wary but increasingly revealing conversation and tequila — lots of tequila — the two lonely souls keep each other company in a more intimate fashion. It’s when the morning sun rises to shine on their hangovers that the two former strangers in the night really meet each other for the first time. It’s also then, as each realizes the other hadn’t been nearly as honest and forthcoming as their previous night’s conversation had led them to believe, that Ray and Henrietta struggle to establish a relationship based on the truth, with all its imperfections. All of which is a roundabout way to say that this film talks. A lot. Not that this would be a bad thing if the dialogue was half as clever as writer/director James Savoca thinks it is, if the two main characters were more sympathetic, or (especially) if the two leads were stronger actors. Martin’s Ray is an unshaven, disheveled walking oil slick who intermittently falls out of character, while de Matteo’s Henrietta has a recurring penchant to slip into irritating fake accents. Come to think of it, maybe these two deserve each other. This is the first feature film from theater veteran Savoca and it shows as “Sleepwalk” feels much more like a filmed stage play than a movie. Savoca’s clumsy attempts at moving the camera only call more attention to his unfamiliarity with the form. Aside from all this other carping, the film is just plain dull. The overwhelming majority of the picture consists of conversations between just these two characters who talk in just the one location. (There’s that stage play bugaboo again.) As a result, this film isn’t so much a “Sleepwalk” as it is a “Sleeping Pill.”

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