Sometimes, the most effective stories are those that don’t spell out every definitive point of what is taking place. A prime example of this is Emily McMartin’s effectively creepy “Sweet Dreams, Lovely One.”
A young man is deep in a dream involving hooded figures brandishing knives while his lovely girlfriend looks on. He awakes and realizes he needs to return to reality – in this case, a monotonous cubicle job that brings out the worst elements in his snarky personality. A text message from his girlfriend reminds him of a dinner engagement, but things seem off-kilter during the date. She seems indifferent to him and the intrusion of another guy – an off-duty police officer who appears to be familiar with her – adds to the problems. The couple returns to his apartment for a late drink, but she comes away from her alcohol intake feeling worse for the effort.
What happens next? What is this all about? McMartin’s wonderfully cryptic story, with a possible surprise regarding whose story is being told, keeps the drama moving at a brisk, edgy pace. The deceptively benign closing shot of the young man driving his car to an unknown destination with a self-satisfied smirk on his face adds to the sense of unbalance and dread – just who is this happy ending for?
The film is blessed with a witty visual style – a clearly visible crossword puzzle on the cubicle clown’s desk, the “Closed” neon sign shining behind the couple when it seems their relationship flatlined – and leads Cheyenne Adamson and Rebecca Eubank provide deeply subtle performances that meet the story’s rapid switches in emotional reactions.