Movie Review: I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone

Dennis suggests I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (in Foreign Language).  All the kids are lining up for Malaysian director Tsai Ming-liang’s latest!  Well, in a much more interesting world, they would be.  Anyway, he’s the director of personal favorites Vive L’Amour, What Time Is It There?, and Goodbye, Dragon Inn which I have described, to anyone who will listen to me talk about near-silent Asian films, as being like people aquariums.  Which I mean as a sincere compliment.  See, when you watch one of his films, you really have to let go of some preconceived notions of what a film is going to do for you.  The director’s style is to drop you in the middle of a story already in progress, plant his camera on some bit of business, a person, or a location, and let the scene play out.  For, often, a really, really long time.  As scene follows scene, the characters, plot, and interrelationships are gradually revealed, and a story comes into focus.  And, speaking of those scenes: be patient.  At first, the static, deadpan takes seem like some sort of joke, or perhaps the result of the crew simultaneously falling asleep and letting the camera run for five solid minutes on a barely-changing view of the nondescript customers of a rundown movie theater, or a group of men carrying a mattress through empty streets, or a man fixing a meal.  It’s like the director is deliberately trying the audience’s patience.  And, again, I mean that as a compliment; Ming-liang’s films seem almost uninterested in our previous experiences in watching a film, or our collective need to have things explained to us, for things to, you know, happen.  Plenty does happen in one of his films- but it happens at its own damned speed, and if you aren’t willing to unplug yourself from your own cinematic expectations, then you’re going to miss out.  What you’ll miss out on in I Don’t Want To Sleep Alone is the story of three displaced, lonely people (a drifter, an immigrant worker, a young woman caring for a comatose patient) connecting, in various combinations, in a strange, still, often cruel world, and finding something like solace.   Turn off the cell phone, get comfortable, and allow this film to work its magic on you.

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Published in: on June 30, 2009 at 10:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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