Chasing Sleep (2000)

Chasing Sleep, directed by Michael Walker was first screened at the Toronto Film Festival were Lions Gate bought the rights. The film was then quietly released in 2001 by Lions Gate and since then has gone on to become somewhat of a cult film. The film stars Jeff Daniels as Ed Saxon, a college professor who wakes up one morning to find his wife missing. He doesn’t worry at first thinking that he missed her and she simply went to work early but as time goes on Ed begins to have hallucinations from his insomnia.

Many critic has called Casing Sleep a mash between a David Lynch and a Roman Polanski film and they are right as the film is similar in a way to both of the those directors styles. It resembles Lynch in its eerie and surreal imagery and Polanski in its atmospheric isolation. However the film as a whole never feels as a total Lynch or Polanski film which is a good thing. It’s a completely different film that stands out on its own. Walker has crafted a fine film that even after 12 years still holds up and manages to spook and surprise its audience.

The film brings about a dark and grim reality that works amazingly well with Daniels performance. In fact the mood of the film is what sets it apart as it has a very moody feel throughout. The film leaves off with an ambiguous ending that leaves things up to the viewer. I find the unexplained aspect of the film to be a positive as it gives a reason to watch it multiple times in order to come up with a conclusion. I find the fact that the film is hard to sum up a good thing as it provokes thought and discussion which is something that not many films nowadays can say.

The acting overall is great with Jeff Daniels pulling out a great performance. Daniels does an amazing job as Ed. He portrays a man who is lost, sick and alone perfectly. He gives the audience a character which they never truly know is safe or sane. The minor characters do their job well enough with Emily Bergl standing out.

Chasing Sleep is a fantastic psychological thrillers that will leave you think about it long after the credits roll. Although its not something that has not been done before, it is done well and better than most and it never feels as a cheap knock off. All in all I would recommend this film to anyone who likes a good psychological thriller that leaves you guessing, 3 ½ out of 5.


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