To Sleep With Anger - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

To Sleep With Anger Reviews

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August 13, 2015
Very good movie & all star cast.
Super Reviewer
November 26, 2012
Didn't do it for me. I don't blame Glover who has been marvellous in other films. It's hard to blame Burnett either after the wonderful work that he did with Killer of Sheep. So how does this go off the rails?
April 27, 2012
Charles Burnett's film, about ignorance and rancor and a visitor (Danny Glover) who may or may not be the devil tearing apart an Africa-American family, is one of the most truthful and poetic portraits of a family ever put on the big screen. An absolute masterpiece.
March 15, 2012
Very good movie relaying the dynamics of a family & how each personality contributes to the obvious drama
½ August 14, 2011
This is my first foray into the cinema of Charles Burnett. In this one, an average middle-class African-American family gets paid a visit by an old friend who then proceeds to sow seeds of discontent among them. It takes a while to get into it but the film is neverthless extremely well-made and very well acted by an impressive ensemble of actors headed by Danny Glover, who gives one of his more interesting performances of his career. I'm guessing this is a very far cry from Tyler Perry movies.
September 17, 2010
A slow-burn drama exploring the impact that an unexpected, insidious houseguest has on a family. Danny Glover's devilish performance is wonderful, but to single him out is a disservice to the rest of the cast, all of whom are impressive. I enjoy Mary Alice in pretty much anything, even those godawful Matrix sequels. The writing is beautiful, never overplaying its hand and giving the actors some very well-drawn characters to work with. I wasn't exactly blown away by the film, but I really enjoyed it.
½ January 3, 2010
A poetic and consistently surprising comedy-drama that is clearly a pet project for all its participants. Burnett's acute and sensitive direction is free of hackneyed movie conventions.
½ March 20, 2009
One of the most interesting movies that I have seen. I saw it years ago and rate it as one of my favorite movies. It is a bit complex, but the performance of Danny Glover was outstanding.
½ February 2, 2009
Los Angeles, 1990. A middle class African-American family. Junior (the eldest son) and his wife attend a prenatal class. Babe Brother (the youngest son) leaves his son in the care of Gideon and Suzie (the parents). Babe Brother forgets his mother‚??s birthday, causing arguments between Babe Brother and Junior. An old friend of Gideon‚??s and Suzie‚??s from the South, Harry, is passing through but Gideon invites him to stay, which he does so for several weeks. Harry meets Hattie, an ex-lover perhaps in the South. Reminding her of their past, Hattie informs him she‚??s been saved since by religion.

Gideon criticises Babe Brother for neglecting his child and leaving him with them. Gideon soon falls ill and becomes comatose. Harry asserts himself more prominently in the house, almost as a surrogate patriarch. Babe Brother and Harry spend more time together, which causes arguments between Babe Brother and his wife. Babe Brother hits her. She leaves to stay with Junior and his wife. Hattie tells Suzie that Harry spreads bad luck. Babe Brother and Junior have a violent disagreement and Suzie is injured during the scuffle. The family are brought closer together by this. Harry collapses in the kitchen and dies when they return, after which Gideon makes a full recovery.

Charles Burnett‚??s brand of African-American cinema couldn‚??t be any more different than the more prominent examples from the blaxploitation and inner city ghetto genres. His interests are observing the African-American middle classes based around the family unit; their trials and tribulations, their values and sense of solidarity. Although ‚??Killer of Sheep‚?? is his best known film, ‚??To Sleep With Anger‚?? is perhaps his most interesting. It considers the impact that a mysterious stranger has upon a family that is respectable enough on the surface but has potential tensions that are yet to be explored. The device of a figure spreading a malign influence upon a family has been used numerous times in cinema, notably in Pasolini‚??s ‚??Teorema‚?? or even Hitchcock‚??s ‚??Shadow of a Doubt‚??. The issue is whether the figure is completely responsible for the chaos that begins after his arrival or whether his arrival merely exposes what was already there.

Harry, as performed by Danny Glover, is charming yet mysterious and his charisma allows him to work his way into the family. Gideon and Suzie have not seen him for the best part of thirty years and since they last met their lives have changed dramatically. Gideon and Suzie are much like Burnett‚??s own parents who moved from Mississippi to California, and they‚??ve become successful, however the memories of the past can still be recalled. These memories are made more vivid by Harry‚??s arrival. One imagines that Harry probably never left the ‚??Old South‚??. He still retains the values and superstitions of a bygone era. He keeps a rabbit‚??s foot that his mother gave him, he brings corn liquor, the taste of the ‚??Real South‚?? to a party and he chastises Babe Brother‚??s son for touching him with a broom. Harry sticks to his own moral code, exclaiming ‚??you folks sure got some strange ways‚?? in reference to the family‚??s new middle class status.

Harry reminds this family of their own past and what they‚??ve tried to move on from since. For instance, when Gideon and Harry walk down a set of train tracks, Burnett cuts to an image of the same tracks but a generation or more earlier of young black men coerced into labour. Gideon‚??s family and friends are regular church attendees, including Hattie, whom we assume was an ex-lover of Harry‚??s tells him he reminds her of so much that went wrong in her life. That‚??s all the details she gives but we sense there‚??s more to it than just this simple phrase. Harry possibly represents something this community, first generation migrants to California, can‚??t forget. Harry embodies the past and the history of this community which became emancipated and has since adopted the values and trappings of bourgeois society. Gideon‚??s children are almost ignorant of their family‚??s past although Gideon constantly reminds them, particularly angering Babe Brother who feels he‚??s been treated so patronisingly by his father because of their past. There‚??s the constant reminder of Big Momma being born into slavery. Gideon‚??s children are selfish and materialistic, products of a bourgeois upbringing - perhaps Burnett wants to reclaim the link between the past and present, to remind those like the sons of Gideon where they originated from?

Whether Harry is ultimately a destructive element for the family or whether the family itself is prone to self-destruction is kept ambivalent. Despite the warnings about Harry; from his ominous entrance to Hattie‚??s concerns that he‚??s evil and spreads bad luck and death, Burnett makes it plain that not all was right from the start. Gideon, the family patriarch ensured his sons worked and sweated when they were younger and they‚??ve resented it ever since. Junior and Babe Brother squabble over who was the most favoured son when growing up. Babe Brother thinks himself as a ‚??black sheep‚?? and that Junior was never treated as harshly as he was. Burnett constantly reiterates how this has been a bone of contention for years, which culminates in the explosion of the violence between them in the film‚??s final third. Would these resentments have come to the surface without Harry‚??s involvement - for instance, he leads Babe Brother astray, causing problems in his marriage which Junior rebukes him for - or would they have continued to simmer? Ironically, Harry‚??s presence and ultimate death reunites the family - there‚??s much more of a calm as the film climaxes.

Although neither the concept nor style of ‚??To Sleep With Anger‚?? are anything especially original, it is executed with such confidence and poise that this hardly matters. Observing the dynamics within middle class families occurs so commonly in film and television, but this is an impressive example, capturing the frustrations and tensions within relationships but also the warmth and sense of solidarity. Burnett himself remains objective with his camera, allowing events to unfold naturally and without bias or need to intervene. He uses a wonderful blues and gospel soundtrack, including several standards to reflect the past and history. The most impressive visual moments of the film are the stunning opening credits sequences of Gideon, seated as patriarch, then Burnett cuts to a portrait of Big Momma before then cutting to a bowl of fruit on the table before the entire screen self-immolates. This represents a link between the past and present and represents the entire film in a single shot.
September 1, 2008
Pity there's no information for this one of a kind drama starring Danny Glover in his greatest role.
June 3, 2008
Charles Barnett is one of the greatest filmmakers of our time.
February 14, 2008
it's kind of depressing to see flixster has "no director/cast information available." this film is tragically overlooked. contains what is arguably the best performance of Danny Glover's career.
February 10, 2008
I don't even know how to deal with this movie. Horrible at times, painful at most others, just, really bizarre. There's never any establishment of some sort of reality; characters just show up whenever and where ever. Nothing is developed, bizarre, strange, amateurish cutting, and extreme boredom set in. I don't even know.
½ January 28, 2008
Burnett is one of the best filmmakers alive.
January 20, 2008
Charles Burnett's film, about ignorance and rancor and a visitor (Danny Glover) who may or may not be the devil tearing apart an Africa-American family, is one of the most truthful and poetic portraits of a family ever put on the big screen. An absolute masterpiece.
½ September 25, 2007
How family bonds can be riven by rivalries and insecurities. And vulnerable to manipulation by outside forces.
September 6, 2007
Danny Glover's character raised so much Hell but didn't he bring that family together in a way that they couldn't have done on their own? Can I get an Amen!!! LOL
July 18, 2007
This is one of the most literary films I've seen in some time, dealing with themes of identity and duality with a poignance and sophistication one usually only gets in great novels; I know it's heresy to say it, but this quality makes me like it even more than the director's other masterpiece, Killer of Sheep. It helps that Burnett, who was also the writer of this film, crafts some of the finest dialogue I've heard in a long time. Perhaps it's hindered somewhat by its early 90's production values, but it still casts a powerful and long-lasting spell over the viewer (like any good magical realist story should). And Glover's bizarre, multifaceted "villain" is one of the all-time greats.
½ July 9, 2007
Director: Charles Burnett
Cast includes Mary Alice, Paul Butler, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Vonetta McGee, and Danny Glover.

This is a gem hampered by a poor release, no publicity and not enough word of mouth. A definite classic.
April 22, 2007
I loved it. Danny Glover was just having a ball, as the heavy, in this low budget, thought provoking movie.
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