Cast: Katherine Waterston, Michael Shannon, Luke Evans, Michiel Huisman
Director: Meredith Danluck
When I watched The Vanishing a couple of weeks ago, I thought to myself, “these non-Netflix on-demand options really aren’t that bad.” Then I saw State Like Sleep, and I thought, “this is much more of what I was expecting from a movie with a minor theatrical release and a parallel streaming release.” I’m a little surprised that this didn’t get a wider release, as the themes should appeal to a larger audience and the cast is recognizable enough to get people to come out, but I guess the studios knew it would be a tough sell and decided to dump it off into obscurity. While the lead performance by Waterston is compelling and the story is interesting, the odd editing and rough pacing undermine and otherwise promising film.
The film follows Katherine Grand (Waterston) who finds her husband Stefan Delvoe (Huisman) dead from an apparent suicide in their home one morning. Thinking that her husband’s death was framed and that he never committed suicide, Katherine goes on a mission to uncover the truth and finds that her husband lived a life that she knew nothing about. Probably the best part of this movie is the performance by Waterston as she is able to successfully convey a plethora of unique emotions to the audience in a way that helps move the plot along. With all of the twists and turns involved in this film’s plot, it takes a seriously talented actress to pull off all her scenes which makes Waterston’s performance that much more valuable to the movie. Speaking of the plot, with all of the details that we learn about the characters and their story, it makes the payoff that much greater at the end. The ending of this movie will invoke an emotional response to some degree, and this is in part due to the way the film builds up and makes you feel as though it is worth the wait. While the plot at times can be an advantage for this movie, at other times it ends up being one of its biggest weaknesses. The fact that the movie intertwines between a present-day timeline and a timeline that takes place in the past can be unnecessarily confusing at times as the jumps are very sudden and can happen with little warning. On top of this, as I mentioned early, the story builds tension so that the conclusion is satisfying, but this movie sure takes its sweet time getting to that point. I wish the movie wasn’t as drawn out because had the film been more concise, I feel as though the film could’ve tightened up some of its plot points to make it so the plot was more easily digestible. Maybe this was because the film had a relatively small budget compared to what these actors are probably used to, but that’s no excuse to lull the audience instead of keeping them enticed in the story. While this isn’t necessarily a major problem, it’s noticeable enough to where it can take the audience out of the movie for periods of time and prevents this from being a truly good movie.
Overall, I didn’t have super high expectations for this film, I didn’t necessarily feel disappointed when this film didn’t surpass the mark I set out for. However, I was surprised at how some the acting and story decisions elevated the movie and prevented it from being a bad movie. When you add up all the pros and cons, State Like Sleeps ends up being a slightly below-average movie that has a foundation to be something better but is held back by some strange decision-making.
Overall Score: 4.5/10