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I Don't Want to Sleep Alone (Hei yan quan) (2007)



Average Rating: 7.2/10
Reviews Counted: 38
Fresh: 34 | Rotten: 4

With little dialogue, Tsai Ming-liang takes the viewer through a powerful journey of loneliness and longing.


Average Rating: 7.9/10
Critic Reviews: 11
Fresh: 11 | Rotten: 0

With little dialogue, Tsai Ming-liang takes the viewer through a powerful journey of loneliness and longing.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 3,031

My Rating

Movie Info

Homeless on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, Hsiao Kang is robbed, beaten and left for dead; he is found and nursed by Rawang, an immigrant worker, who lives in the shell of a modernist building abandoned during construction. Rawang's feelings for his patient may or may not be sexual, but there's definitely something like lust in the eyes of Chyi, a waitress in a run-down old coffee shop, when they light upon the recovering Hsiao Kang. And so a triangle forms as a blanket of noxious fog settles on


Drama, Art House & International, Comedy

Ming-liang Tsai

Nov 6, 2007

Strand Releasing

Watch It Now


Latest News on I Don't Want to Sleep Alone (Hei yan quan)

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All Critics (39) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (34) | Rotten (4) | DVD (1)

The hormones here don't rage so much as unfurl over two exquisite hours.

September 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

For Tsai's fans, Sleep offers many pleasures, including a heightened attention to nocturnal beauty and a gorgeous, uncharacteristic surrealism.

July 12, 2007 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I Don't Want to Sleep Alone is a title to keep in mind while absorbing this allusive, humid mood piece.

June 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film ends so beautifully that it's easy to forgive the dead passages that preceded it and hope it carries over into his next movie.

May 12, 2007 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A serious return to creative form and a renewal of focus; there's a sense that every perfectly timed slow take and studied composition serves a purpose. And not a single melon gets shtupped.

May 10, 2007 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I Don't Want to Sleep Alone is emotional in what it says about the need for connections, religious in what it asks about the universe.

May 10, 2007 Full Review Source: Newsday
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I Don't Want to Sleep Alone-which ends with a vision of fragile and drifting bliss as oneiric as anything in the swamp-moss-pherics of Andrei Tarkovsky-is nothing short of a dream

November 14, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

A gorgeous film that won't disappoint.

February 8, 2008 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Tsai's style is essentially written in stone at this point, and [this] hardly challenges it. [He] is as visually adept here as ever, right up to the film's peaceful final shot.

January 8, 2008 Full Review Source:

A subtle, slow-moving presentation of hope and responsibility that will test your patience if you are not a fan of elliptical, dreamlike narratives like those in Tsai's films.

November 29, 2007
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Music interlaces the action, which proceeds mostly without words, expression or, regrettably, interest.

November 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Independent

Working from a sombre palette and with little to no dialogue, Tsai crafts a dazed fantasy about companionship and its power to revivify.

November 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Spare an evening, if you feel adventurous.

November 15, 2007 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

Directors who come up with films with "sleep" in the title shouldn't be this dull if they don't want glib comments made about them. Yes, I Don't Want To Sleep Alone is a snooze-fest.

November 15, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4

While not as erotic as other films by this director, there's a languid sensuality to the story.

November 15, 2007 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

This mostly wordless saga is striking but slight.

November 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Tsai's long, static, near-wordless takes may try the patience of some, but fans will be enchanted by his new-found warmth.

November 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

from the most prosaic of foundations, Tsai has erected a somnolent reverie on alienation, desire and restlessness.

November 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
Eye for Film

An enigmatic fable of longing and loneliness in present-day Kuala Lumpur.

November 6, 2007 Full Review Source:

If it is sometimes confusing sifting through the characters drifting throughthe Malaysian nights, I Don't Want to Sleep Alone is nonetheless successfulin creating a mood that lingers.

August 26, 2007 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

It's a return to the dreamy style of Tsai's studies in urban alienation and social disconnection, in which feelings often are suppressed and words are rarely spoken...

July 26, 2007 Full Review Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Tsai's drama is something like a mixture of Robert Bresson and R.W. Fassbinder, as God's bedraggled souls struggle with the desires of the damned, and nobody wants to go into that good night alone.

July 20, 2007 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

It takes some careful attention and a not insignificant amount of patience, but if you can modify your expectations accordingly, Sleep is a highly rewarding experience.

June 12, 2007 Full Review Source: Las Vegas Weekly
Las Vegas Weekly

Audience Reviews for I Don't Want to Sleep Alone (Hei yan quan)

[size=3]I Don't Want to Sleep Alone, the first Malaysian film I've ever seen, is breathtakingly original in its minimalist filmmaking technique. There's barely any dialogue at all.[/size]


[size=3]While the first half of the film is captivating, the second half reduced me to yawning and looking at my watch. Cool styles and techniques aren't enough to make a movie. You need 90 minutes of consistently interesting storyline. This film has about 45.[/size]

[size=3]The filmmaker, [b]Tsai Ming-Liang[/b], appears to be something of a celebrity, but this is the first I'm hearing of him.[/size]


[size=3]The film is set in a big Asian city with a lot of recent development. Everywhere new buildings are being constructed, especially gigantic office buildings. There is also a lot of decrepitude. Every dwelling we see is crumbling. [/size][size=3]The marketing material for the film says it is set in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. But this was not clear to me while watching it.[/size]

[size=3]The environment is filled with people who appear to be from different nationalities, although this is never spoken of explicitly. The central storyline surrounds a man who is beaten badly and then found by another man. The injured man is carried to a communal home, where something like 20 young men live together, each with his own sleeping space covered with mosquito netting. There is no furniture to speak of, just mats on floors.[/size]

[size=3]The rescuer cares for the injured man in a way that is uncommonly tender. There are long scenes where the rescuer helps the injured man urinate and then gives him a sponge bath. This is amazing filmmaking. Tsai films in very long takes without any editing or camera movement. The sponge bath scene lasts about five minutes, yet I found it gripping. Watching someone care for another person like that almost brought tears to my eyes. [/size]

[size=3]For it to be two men was oddly jarring. When have you seen a man in a film tenderly wash another man from head to toe? Such a banal thing, yet so infused with mysterious radiance by being seen for the first time. Also jarring is the fact that no one speaks. The movements that people make are heightened in meaning because of the lack of dialogue. Rather than hearing the rescuer say tender things, we watch him be tender, really putting himself out for the benefit of this stranger.[/size]

[size=3]As the injured man gets better, he starts to stray. He has sexual trysts with a couple women (also with no dialogue spoken), and eventually he steals the rescuer's mattress so that he can sleep with one of the girls. This leads to an emotional confrontation between the men that is powerful despite being wordless. That confrontation is the first moment where it becomes clear that something like romantic feeling has built up between the two men.[/size]

[size=3]I've read that the actor playing the injured man is something of a muse for the filmmaker. But I found the actor playing the rescuer much more compelling. I researched the actor's name: [b]Norman Atun[/b].[/size]

[size=3]The weakness in the film is that after the uncommon bond between the two men is built, there's not much else that happens. We learn something about the women. One works in a sort of in-home hospice for patients who are on their death beds. But nothing in the women's lives is very interesting beyond that.[/size]

[size=3]I would have liked to learn more about all of these characters. I loved being introduced to them, but the filmmaker didn't have much to say about them after the basic introduction. [/size][size=3]I Don't Want to Sleep Alone is a classic example of a film with a great first act, but a dead Act 2.[/size]

[size=3]Tsai has a lot of similarity with another Asian auteur I've explored recently, Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Both are masters of visual poetry and mise-en-scene and both are quiet in style. But when it comes to visual beauty and overall skill as a filmmaker, I'd say that AW is the better one and the one that will be remembered more.[/size]
May 14, 2007
Bill D 2007
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]In "I Don't Want to Sleep Alone" a Chinese worker(Lee Kang-sheng) in Malaysia is beaten by scam artists. He is found along the side of the road by men who are carrying a mattress back to their residence. After a while, the worker heals and he romances a waitress(Chen Shiang-chyi).[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Or maybe none of that is happening. In the movie, Lee Kang-sheng also portrays a man in a coma. So, it is reasonable to assume that everything in this movie is part of his character's imagination. After all, what does happen in the mind of a coma patient?[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Told with very little dialogue, "I Don't Want to Sleep Alone" is one of the more enigmatic of Tsai Ming-liang's movies that I have seen. And like his previous "The Wayward Cloud", he is again concerned with living conditions, this time amongst immigrant workers in Malaysia which seems to be a hub for workers from all over Asia.(Malaysia here being portrayed as a country with a less than friendly tolerance towards foreigners.) Specifically, we all should have someone to be with; at the very least, a good bed will do.[/font]
May 14, 2007
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

This was my first Tsai Ming-liang, which is probably why it took my awhile to get use to his style. The slow pace and minimal dialogue does make it very hypnotic.
May 8, 2009
Emily B.

Super Reviewer

What a privilege to be able to see this at its N. American premiere in Toronto! Tsai has some beautiful camerawork here, and his incredibly still shots and virtual absence of dialogue help to convey the sense of isolation felt by the migrant workers who populate his film. However, there are some awkward moments, and the movie is very, very slow. You have to be VERY patient to enjoy this. Norman Atun is wonderful as the worker who rescues Lee Kang-Sheng's homeless character. As well, if you're looking for an insight into Malaysia, don't watch this - it's fairly ambiguous in that respect, with no shining vistas of the city skyline, and with its focus on foreigners. Interesting, but painfully slow.
February 21, 2007

Super Reviewer

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