Superb, naturalistic performances by the three lead actors, Nick Stahl, Charlize Theron and AnnaSophia Robb, make us truly care about the people they are portraying and the things that are happening to them.
In Sleepwalking the scenery and climate could not have been more dull, barren and depressing. There are boring, depressing highways that go for miles without any beautiful scenery. Every location in this film is flat, dreary and depressing. This added to the disturbing impact of the movie. The people who live in the area of the movie are colourless, dull and depressing.
Director: Bill Maher
Summary: When James's (Nick Stahl) sister, Joleen (Charlize Theron), shows up with her 11-year-old daughter, Tara (AnnaSophia Robb), he doesn't think twice about welcoming them into his home. But when Joleen skips town without her daughter, James is thrust into a role he's grossly unprepared for. At risk of losing Tara to foster care, James hits the road with his niece. Along the way, the pair develop a genuine bond and discover a true sense of family.
My Thoughts: "Although I liked the film, it had many potholes. It really didn't fill in some of the blanks for me. But for what it was, it still a good film. Nick Stahl and AnnaSophia were really good in this. Dennis Hopper, was good in this as well. His character is a controlling, hateful man. Its so easy to hate him in this film. As many probably have, or will say, this movie is quite depressing. It really never lightens up. It's a bit slow in some spots and could have ran a little shorter in time. But all in all a good enough flick with a sad and disturbing story."
All in all, it is worth watching the movie. Not cute, more scary actually.
[font=Century Gothic]"Sleepwalking" is a slight character study that is enhanced by the quality of the performances(especially by Dennis Hopper who may be in the middle of a late career resurgence) and the expert cinematography. On the other hand, there is some facile psychology at work to try and explain the characters' actions and how that relates to family, especially in how one generation affects the next. Joleen is desperately trying to relive her lost young adulthood at an age when she feels Tara can take care of herself, forcing her to grow up too quickly and perilously close to being a piece of work, even at her young age. This is expressed perfectly in the movie's two best scenes set on a tabletop(it is not the actions but what's said) and a pool. Now, if only "Sleepwalking" had a halfway decent ending...[/font]
Anyways, i was surprised by this film.....to be honest i can understand the negative reviews but i feel that they may have gone in with the wrong perspective, i've always felt that film and any performance art be it visual or written can and should invoke any emotion...even the ones we dont like to feel for that i believe is a true achievement in itself.
Sleepwalking is a film that starts out grim and doesnt really pick itself up, i'm saying this as a good thing.....no one can describe this movie as anything other then outright reality so i can understand why people can hate it because a lot of people want a movie to make them happy....hence why comedy and action are top of the list for some, not true with me and while Sleepwalking isnt my favorite film and can completely appreciate the message it sent as well as the fact that it'll probably haunt me for years to come.
The story is as i said before very grim, it starts out with arguing between a women named Joleen (Charlize Theron) and a police officer....after they exchange words the curtain is revealed that the women's husband was arrested for some at the time vague drug related charges and is probably going to jail for awhile and they're taking the house, we also find out she has a kid named Tara (AnnaSophia Robb) and the officer is trying to convince her to find a more stable environment for her daughter, of course she refuses and leaves with her daughter.....retreating to her brother who lives in the same town in an old beat up apartment on the back-end of some building....nothing too bright or even remotely happy about this situation so of course this movie reflects this well.
i also notices this interesting way of an uneven "things are happening so fast its somewhat messy" i felt this was bad for the movie at first but then something clicked while watching this....nothing is ever easy when something like this happens its virtually always messy and unbelievably stress-full so i actually felt the movie was portrayed to keep us in the same uneven depressing situation that our characters are in, this of course doesnt work for A LOT of movies but i felt it worked well for sleepwalkings.
we're then introduced to Tara, the daughter of Joleen and Niece of Joleen's brother James (Nick Stahl) who they are now moving in with and then the movie changes its pacing....what could possibly make this situation worse right? well unfortunately Joleen (Tara's Mom) decides to leave....tacklessly mailing a letter with money and a promise to return on Tara's Birthday, i had guessed that this promise wouldnt hold much water and needless to say i was right.....some people just dont know whats the most important thing in their life so thinking of no one other then herself she abandons her daughter and brother hoping to gain some sense of stability....
This film is hard to generalize i have to admit, sure it has some moments that i thought were oddly placed....but on the other hand they were in an odd and unpleasant situation if they're not uncomfortable then there is something wrong right? i mention this because of the scene found on the cover.....i found it really weird, almost off the movies tone and somewhat unwelcome but luckily it didnt last long.
Then this movie after about an hour and twenty minutes (1 hour 40 minutes run time) finally reveals to us its true main character which is actually James (Stahl) unfortunately James is a guy who never stood up for himself.....constantly pushed around and takes crap everywhere he goes it makes you wonder how such a great guy who took both his sister and niece in and then after his sister left he took care of his niece.....he loses his job and apartment, some of the nicest most deserving people get the worst end of life.....sad but true, this was the Grim i was talking about earlier.
eventually the two (Thats James and Tara) decide to go, because hes not legally her guardian so they cant stay in town....while on the road she asks him where they're gonna go, to his fathers farm he says...which is where the film expands even more in depth of character development.
at his Father farm its revealed to us that his father looks a lot like Dennis Hopper (see what i did there) and is stern old man set in his ways that makes you think "its not actual cruelty its just an old timer with different ways.....well that thought i found to be dead wrong, he is infact a cruel heartless old man who without batting an eye smacked his granddaughter across the face......it was this moment i realized something else of immense depth, this is our explanation for the ditch our leads are in...this man right her, he broke their spirit, James was broken because of him.....Joleen was rebellious, after discovering this i forgave Joleen for abandoning her daughter.....the way i saw it is they were all being broken down by this tyrant no matter how far away.
I dont want to say anymore about the story at least not specifically, but i will say that It did have a scene where you wanted to something to happen....but unfortuantely the worst possible thing did, its in the spur of the moment when a lot of bad things happen...upon reflection later we say to ourselfs "worst way to handle a situation" while obviously we've never found ourselfs in the situation James ends up in but i'm sure you can all understand what i mean.
The Cast was fantastic, after everyone i mentioned i forgot to mention Woody Harrelson....hes always a good actor no one can deny, this role is a very nice and welcoming mundane day to day guy whos a little bit of a wannabe womanizer but overall great guy.
Dennis Hopper who is also a fantastic actor made sure you despised his character with the kind of relish you feel for the Fascist dictator
Charlize Theron, AnnaSophia Robb, Nick Stahl do such an amazing job of bringing this film up.....i felt Genuine happyness by the end tears and all.
I'll just close off with, i do not think this film deserved such immense negative reviews.....it seems to me that a lot of people who saw it didnt go in with the right mindset (and if i'm being even more assumptious) predetermined emotions they want to feel before they're enjoying a movie, but i'm sure there are people with the right mindset who went in are were displeased and probably make a good case....but This movie left a bitter-sweet after taste that i wont soon forget and that i will fully appreciate for years to come.
P.S. i actually cant say this is a recommendation or a none recommendation review, more of a analysis of a film that was almost universally (and i feel wrongly) panned, go figure....so if you decide to watch it i hope you enjoy and if not i hope you can at least appreciate its extreme grasp of reality.
The two main characters are Tara (AnnaSophia Robb, of "Bridge to Terabithia"), a snarling pre-teen, and James Reedy (Nick Stahl), her docile, hapless, tardy uncle. But it's difficult to decipher who the movie's about -- Tara, James, or Tara's mother (played by Charlize Theron, who also produced the project), who, after being evicted and moving into her brother James' ramshackle apartment with her daughter, leaves both the two with whom she'd been living and the film until the scratch finale. Woody Harrelson, as a friend and former co-worker of James named Randall, does his best to lift the tale's piteous mood with some humor, but is unable because of the supposed comedic content of screenwriter Zac Stanford's script -- Randall's a fortysomething doofus who passes his time by hounding his female colleague about her "uncanny fanny" and playing beer-drinking games with equally foolish adults, which may have been funnier if it were the first, even tenth time I'd seen this type of character. But it's more likely the hundredth.
The movie itself is bogged down by many poor traits, yet it seems that each of them could have at least been modest with a more focused story (and, of course, an equipped inker to pen it) and a modicum of creativity. But, like many of its characters (particularly Hopper's and Theron's, the second being a mimicry of Maggie Gyllenhaal's Sherry in 2006's "SherryBaby"), this picture is a discombobulated mess of other movies' conceptions -- there's even a pool scene that gives off a "Lolita" vibe, but in a less artistic way. And the lethargic rate at which "Sleepwalking" drags is the result of this, the filmmakers' lack of ideas -- much of the movie plays like stationary filler rather than significant story progression -- an evident, quite saddening attribute.
Still, maybe "Sleepwalking"'s most prominent gaffe, the dismal substance in its final shape is textured like leather, terribly missing the soft layering I assume it had aimed for (why would a movie try for a rough, plastic consistency over an ultimately embracing one, even if the latter were initially itchy?). If ever it manages its course toward emotional legitimacy, it, immediately and almost purposely, steers off in a different direction before getting there, prohibiting its observers to latch onto any of the movie's troubled characters for an extended amount of time, small or large. Even the players we wish we could care for are hard to see with tolerance -- instead of coming across as the victim of parental negligence, Tara is perceived as a nasty-hearted brat (to the discredit of the screenplay, not Robb's resourceful performance); and James' culminating outburst (think "There Will be Blood") near the movie's end virtually disqualifies his prior rank as the most applicable part in "Sleepwalking".
On a positive note, "Sleepwalking" features an effective soundtrack and first-time director Maher, who had previously worked with writer Zac Stanford in '05's "The Chumscrubber" as the visual effects designer, achieves a few beautiful road shots and certainly shows promise as a pupil of imagery -- cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchía ("Focus", "September Dawn") does a great job capturing the subzero temperatures of Canada, where the movie was filmed -- but, regrettably, this show chooses content as its precedence, allowing minimal time spent on attractive scenery. To call Maher's rookie endeavor an utter failure would be unmerited, though it's definitely no success; it's closer to a disappointment, a movie I'd recommend only to those more interested in acting than anything else.
I found it a little hard to see Nick Stahl and Charlize Theron as borther and sister. Aunt and nephew maybe.
I thought that the story was too strain and was not giving enough to help things moving. Maybe I was hoping more with granddaughter and son would some how make the father understand what he had done to drive his own kids away.
Annasophie Robb had done an amazing job with her role.
Overall, it's not really something to sleep over, so dream of something better to rent than this.