Movie Review: "State Like Sleep" by Meredith Danluck
Ever since its release at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, I have been eagerly waiting to watch this film, the leading actors and the mysterious plot making it a promising one in my eyes. It has not been a disappointment.
At the beginning of the movie, our protagonist, photographer Katherine Grand is in the middle of a photo shoot. Her job is interrupted by an important phone call: Her mother, Elaine, is currently in a hospital in Brussels. Katherine leaves what she is doing and flies to Belgium to meet her. Once there, she learns that Elaine is there to clear out the apartment in which her daughter lived when she was married.
Stephan, Katherine’s ex-husband, a famous Belgium actor, has committed suicide some time ago. Since then, her wife has refused to continue living in the apartment they used to share, going back to America instead. Her former mother-in-law, who has never liked her, is now trying to sell the place and she needs all her things out of there.
Katherine does not want to stay in Brussels, but the delicate state of Elaine’s health make an imperative for her to remain there for a few more days before they can travel without risks. In the meantime, she recovers some things from her former home: Stephan’s cellphone, who had never been found by the police, and a curious matchbox. These two things lead her to a secret night club, “La Fleur” which she suspects, is related somehow to her husband’s last days.
“La Fleur” turns out to belong to a man who claims to be Stephan’s long-life best friend, even though Katherine does not think her husband has ever mentioned him. This man does not give her any straightforward answers, but the visit to the club is enough to confirm her guesses: Stephan was there the night before his death.
All of this will make Katherine start to wonder about the past: Which were her husband’s motives to kill himself? Was it just their unsuccessful marriage and his addiction problems or was there something else she did not know? Was there anything she could have done to avoid it? And the most important: Was Stephan’s death really a suicide?
Why should you be watching it?
It has been a while since I last rewatched a thriller, but this movie merited it.
The reason I am not so much into this genre is that even though it is rich in action, most of the times we do not get to see the background of the characters very well, a fact that makes the movie lack a human, emotional part. It is a personal issue of mine: To like a story I have to find a connection among me and the characters, otherwise, I feel I cannot comprehend what is going on.
The strong point of this story is that it does not only make you hold your breath until the last minutes but that it also gives you a look into sorrow and guilt. We get to see a considerable part of what is going on through flashbacks, and it allows us to see every step that leads us to the present: The happy moments of the young couple, Stephan’s addictions, their struggles to keep the ship afloat, and finally the tragedy.
I have heard mixed opinions about it, but the only thing I can criticize is the ending. It is not that I did not like it, but it seemed to me that the almost two hours duration of the movie prepare the public for another, more dramatic kind of ending. I am not going to say it did not surprise me, though.
Katherine Waterston made an awesome job, some had even said that it is her best so far. I would agree completely have I get over Fantastic Beasts, which by the record, I have not. The truth is that her character carries a 97% of the weight of the story on her shoulders, a difficult position if we consider that the photographer expresses herself more through actions and gestures that through dialogues. Michael Shannon also makes an opportune appearance as Katherine's next door neighbor, a person the protagonist will dislike at first, but to whom she will get attached to later on.
A good thriller is supposed to create anticipation, and excitement in the audience; it is supposed to surprise. “State like sleep” is capable of all that and more. Definitely worth watching.
If you liked my review on this movie and are interested in purchasing it, you can do so at the link below.
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