SCREENED AT SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST FILM FESTIVAL
documentary about filmmaker alan berliner who battles insomnia. berliner is cut from the woody allen cloth – he looks jewish, is well-educated, and is neurotic in a humorous way (at least to the audience). he tells the story of his many sleepless nights and their consequences through voice-over, testimonials, stock footage, interviews (with doctors, family), etc. it’s hard to make a film about yourself, but he’s taken a page out of ross mcelwee’s book and done a pretty good job of being open and honest. it’s only when a filmmaker holds things back or makes excuses or refuses to be candid that a film like this really suffers.
sleep, or the lack thereof, is the focus of the film, but he uses it as a springboard to other topics. for example, he argues that the amount of sleep a person gets could very well determine things as disparate as presidential decisions to world series outcomes. for berliner, quality of life is associated with the amount of sleep one gets. this idea becomes an obsession. he makes a film about it, he stays up at all hours of the night working on his film in various ways, he sees several doctors about the problem, he researches the issue, he talks with his family about it and eventually all of this comes to a head with his wife. his obsession and his insomnia hurt the relationship and hamper his ability to be with his newborn son. the film ends with his resolution to address the problem in earnest.
after the film, berliner talked about the fact that the resolution at the end of the film was one he didn’t really take to heart. the doctors proposed resetting his clock, but he rejected the idea because he felt that it would cut into his creative time too much. he has resolved to get control of his sleeping pill problem and hopes to incorporate his son into his new project in an attempt to balance family and creativity.
unlike small town gay bar, this is a real documentary made by someone who clearly understands how to tell a story, keep you interested and add some depth to the film. there’s plenty here to chew on, regardless of your relationship with sleep.Watched in theater Watched on TV