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RELEASED: 1992, Cert. 15
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 98 mins
DIRECTOR/ SCREENPLAY: Paul Schrader
PRODUCER: Linda Reisman
MUSIC: Michael Been
Willem Dafoe as John LeTour
Susan Sarandon as Ann
David Clennon as Robert
Dana Delaney as Marianne Jost
Jane Adams as Randi Jost
Victor Garber as Tis
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Reformed addict John LeTour works as a drug runner for Ann and Robert, who supply illegal recreational chemicals to professional people such as stockbrokers, bankers, lawyers etc.
Although John has a good working relationship with Ann and Robert, his sometimes erratic attitude towards the job causes Ann some concern.
One day and purely by accident, John happens to meet up with Marianne, his ex-wife. Under difficult circumstances, they spend a night together....and from that point, John's life takes a few turns down avenues he didn't anticipate and certainly didn't wish for.
This is a difficult film to précis, but I hope the above gives a meaningful outline.
The first thing which struck me about Light Sleeper was the music. The opening theme is a rather sad song, albeit moderately up-tempo, and despite the vocalist having a not too good voice, it moved me quite considerably. Variations on the theme of that song continue here and there throughout the film, appropriately placed to add expression to what is happening during the storyline at any given time. The rest of the music is very good too, being a combination of semi-avant-garde orchestration and some jazz-influenced soul.
The acting quality from the whole main cast is very good throughout the film, although I wouldn't say it is outstandingly brilliant...it is very much more than acceptable though, with my favourite characters being Willem Dafoe as the likeable, easy-going John, an ex-druggy who despite being a runner for Ann and Robert, succeeds in staying clean yet has much on his mind, and Susan Sarandon as Ann, a warm and bubbly, sometimes sassy lady who jointly runs a large drug empire and is a user herself.
Although not heart-stopping, the mood of Light Sleeper is quite tense, but the storyline does take a little while to get off the ground. During the earlier part of the film where things were dragging somewhat, I almost stopped watching, but decided to continue in case anything interesting happened. My patience paid off in that although it is by no means the best film I've ever seen, Light Sleeper is a good, somewhat gripping (in parts) piece of entertainment.
Although the storyline isn't particularly original and it overall is on the weak side, I admire the direction/production team in managing to create a very watchable and absorbing film from what initially is something and nothing. I suppose the screenplay writer (who is also the director) could have widened the scope of the story, but on the other hand that may not have worked. Amongst others, one reason why creating a more elaborate plot perhaps wouldn't have been a good idea, is that to do so quite likely would mean many more sub-characters would have to be dreamed up, and such no doubt would have resulted in a very confusing film. It is whilst watching, a little difficult at first to keep track of who is who as it is, without adding more people to remember. However, as the film progresses, it does become clear as to who the key characters are....who is paramount, and who is secondary.
Light Sleeper is a neat little film, rather slick and well-produced/directed, but I did find parts of the dialogue a tad indistinct, as the actors mumbled some of their words. However, I soon realised I was latching onto the important bits, which at the end of the day was all that mattered.
Alongside the tension, there is a slight tinge of bleakness present in Light Sleeper's atmosphere, which is enhanced by the sadness of some of the brilliant musical score. These sad stretches of music aren't in the least bit sugary or cheesy....quite the opposite.
Light Sleeper is one of these films which probably doesn't tempt the viewer into second helpings, so it's unlikely I shall watch it again, but it is a sleek, very polished little piece of entertainment which kept me occupied and out of mischief for a while on what otherwise would have been a boring Saturday evening.
Overall and in summary, I'd guess that Light Sleeper is a film that would appeal to people who like crime/thrillers, although it isn't full of screeching car chases, cops chasing villains over the rooftops of New York or anything that raises your blood pressure. The crime/thriller aspect, although very apparent, is quite laid-back in the way it is presented.
At the time of writing, Light Sleeper can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: from £3.74 to £14.45
Used: only two copies currently available, @ £3.73 and £7.64
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my GentleGenius user name ~~
'Light Sleeper' was written and directed by gritty crime drama guru Paul Schrader(the man who gave us the screenplay to 'Taxi Driver' and 'Last Temptation of Christ'- among other things). It stars Willem Dafoe and Susan Sarandon, and it features some off-the-wall but really neat musick by some guy whose name I didn't catch; it was released about 1991. Okay, all the technicals aside, lets get on with the review, shall we?.. Let me just start off by commending Sarandon and Dafoe for the incredible perfomances they put into this underrated, largely unseen and neglected gem. Dafoe stars as a cocaine dealer looking to go straight, "maybe do something in music..." he would say. Hes all in all, a good guy- a sleaze bag with a heart and Dafoe plays it straight and narrow, giving his character that likeable quality we saw just recently in 'Shadow of the Vampire'. Sarandon is his supplier, a chick with alot of connections and time, but theres something fishy and mysterious about her; its an almost mystical allure that could be mostly Sarandon(she is, after all, the sexiest actress to grace the screen period-besides Clara Bow) or could just be the smokey, hazy almost mundane feel the film is encompassed with. Dafoe's character is a trustworthy guy, but theres something strange going on when girls start turning up dead all over the city with drugs only he could've supplied on them... Its all very film noir and audiences will find this a decent watch. I won't go into plot details, but all I have to say is that 'Light Sleeper' is definitely worth a movie rental; Shraeder does an excellent job directorial-wise and, as always, he gives us a sympathetic look into the life of the anti-hero. I can't say Dafoe's character is like Travis Bickle in anyway- Dafoe brings a down-to-earth charm to his role- but neither are what we would call conventional in lifestyle or fit in society-wise.Shaeder tak
es us deep into the heart of the day-to-day lives of these people and what they have to deal with, and I, for one, really appreciated seeing a film where the world wasn't painted black and white.