Light Sleeper (1992)



Critic Consensus: Light Sleeper requires patience, but delivers commensurate rewards -- and boasts an absorbing performance from Willem Dafoe.

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Paul Schrader's brilliant study of another alienated urban denizen skirting the borderline of madness stars Willem Dafoe as John Le Tour, a rich, upscale drug dealer for Manhattan professionals -- "White drugs for white people," as he puts it. John is a recovering addict and for him it's the perfect job, as he can relate completely with the self-absorbed eccentrics he services. But when his boss Ann (Susan Sarandon) tells John that she is planning to abandon the drug business for herbal cosmetics, John's life is thrown into disarray. With no future plans, he sees black clouds heading his way. Coincidentally, he runs into Marianne (Dana Delany), an old girlfriend and former addict who has returned to New York to be with her dying mother. John sees Marianne as his redemption and starts to pursue her, but she doesn't want to be reminded of her past. When the murder of an Upper West Side woman involved in a drug transaction has the police scouring the town for suspects, John thinks they are following him, and the strain upon his life and his hopes for the future become harder and harder to bear.
Drama , Mystery & Suspense
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Written By:
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Willem Dafoe
as John LeTour
Dana Delany
as Marianne
David Clennon
as Robert
Paul Jabara
as Eddie
Sam Rockell
as Jealous
Rene Rivera
as Manuel
David Spade
as Theological Cokehead
Ken Ladd
as Carlos
Sam Rockwell
as Jealous
Brian Judge
as Thomas
Vinny Capone
as Young Cuban
Paul Stocker
as Maitre D'
Bernadette Jurkowski
as French Girl
Vinnie Capone
as Young Cuban
Elena Vannucci
as 2nd Model
Jeff Telvi
as Male Model
Jennifer Fowler
as Woman at Bar
Gabrielle Stubbert
as Woman at Bar
James Saxenmeyer
as Bar Patron
Arcoiris Medina
as Woman at Laundromat
Esteban Fernandez
as Concierge
Carolyn L.A. Walker
as Police Woman
Timothy D. Stickney
as Young Dominican
Joe Gironda
as Funeral Home Employee
Paul Stockman Smith
as Radio Announcer
Peter Macklin
as Baseball Card Fan
Billy Joe Novinski
as Baseball Card Fan
David Sukoff
as Baseball Card Fan
Damien Corrente
as Baseball Card Fan
Ronald Sylvers
as Prison Guard
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Critic Reviews for Light Sleeper

All Critics (37) | Top Critics (14)

Light Sleeper is emblematic of an era, and is recommended on that basis and on the excellent quality of it acting.

Full Review… | September 9, 2014
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

It's a failure perhaps, but an honorable failure. If it isn't saved by grace, it has many saving graces.

Full Review… | September 9, 2014
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

With his deliberate speech patterns and haunted, reptilian good looks, Dafoe is an almost nobly sad presence at the center of the film. There's something wonderfully calm about his performance, and it holds Light Sleeper together.

Full Review… | September 9, 2014
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Dafoe completely inhabits the character, appearing in virtually every scene and developing a fascinating psychological profile.

Full Review… | September 9, 2014
Seattle Times
Top Critic

For all of Schrader's capacity for spectacular self-laceration and spiritual agony, Light Sleeper finds him able for the first time to express a certain peacefulness, and the effect is delicate and discreet.

Full Review… | September 9, 2014
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Crowd pleasing? No. Challenging? You bet.

Full Review… | September 9, 2014
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Light Sleeper


If you liked watching "Taxi Driver" then Paul Scharder's film "Light Sleeper" is for you. This is one of Schrader's best films and he knows these kinds of stories inside out. Willem Dafoe plays in the mature Travis Bickle role as John LaTour. Susan Surandon plays as the upscale cocaine barron and in ways her performance reminds me of Nina Van Pallandt from Schrader's earlier 80's picture "American Gigolo".

Brian R
Brian R

Super Reviewer

An in-depth character study, much like most of Paul Schrader's other work. The real talent here is Willem Dafoe, who carries most of the film with his detailed and thoughtful performance.

Stephen Earnest
Stephen Earnest

Super Reviewer

This movie is okay. I liked Sarandon the best in the cast, she's such a great actress. The story is alright, but nothing really new, it's sort of like a drug drama from the 70s, but it gets kind of dull at times.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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