Main cast: Katherine Waterston (Katherine Grand), Michael Shannon (Edward), Luke Evans (Emile), Michiel Huisman (Stefan Delvoe), Julie Khaner (Anneke Delvoe), Mark O’Brien (Darren), Bo Martyn (Frieda), and Mary Kay Place (Elaine Grand)
Director: Meredith Danluck
Stefan Delvoe was Belgium’s beloved screen icon, and he had everything. A lovely wife, the photographer Katherine Grand, and a career poised at the brink of international stardom as he had just clinched a lead role in an American action film. Thus, it was a shock to that nation when he was found dead by his wife one fine day, with all kinds of drugs in his blood stream and two bullets in his head.
In truth, things weren’t going so well in the happy household up to that point. Katherine had filed for separation shortly before his apparent suicide, for Belgium’s golden boy was a big junkie and his increasing out of control behavior had become too much for her. Also, his control freak Anneke couldn’t stop being the stage mom from hell and that woman openly resented Katherine for coming between her and her son. Additionally, Katherine harbors a good degree of guilt, for on the day he killed himself, he had called her a few times on the phone and she deliberately ignored those calls.
This movie opens five years after Stefan’s death. Katherine has deliberately cut off all contact with Anneke and moved back to America to resume her career. However, she is called back to Belgium when her mother Elaine suffers a stroke. You see, Anneke is going to sell off the home that once belonged to Stefan and Katherine, and Elaine thought she would go collect things that belonged to her daughter. Katherine rushes to her side, only to learn that Elaine’s condition is pretty serious and the woman shouldn’t fly in the meantime. With time to kill, Katherine begins looking deeper into her late husband’s death. Hmm, wonder what she will learn…
No, Sleep Like State isn’t a thriller or mystery movie – it’s more of a woman’s journey, complete with an unexpected romance – of sorts – with a completely unsuitable man in Edward, the guy who rents the room across from hers. There is no gripping investigative procedural drama here, as Katherine basically stumbles upon the answers to all the questions she may have with regards to Stefan’s death. The entire movie is a slow-paced, even sleepy thing that deserves its title – the heroine basically sleepwalks throughout the entire film with a dazed expression on her face.
Not that I blame her – Katherine has never fully recovered from Stefan’s death, so it is understandable that she is the way she is in this movie. The cast is, by the way, excellent. Michael Shannon plays a simultaneously charming and smarmy guy, a different type of role from his usual repertoire, and he’s actually good at being Edward. Mary Kay Place is also great as Katherine’s mother – both mother and daughter have a chemistry that makes their relationship feel genuine. Luke Evans doesn’t have much to do here, but I guess he looks pretty enough if you’re into the disco meth ball host look that his character sports here.
Because of the cast, this movie ends up being far more engaging than it would seem on paper. The story itself is a pretty mundane one, but the acting is such that I find it easy to become emotionally invested in Katherine’s story. Therefore, I enjoy watching Sleep Like State far more than I expected. Still, I would hesitate to recommend this movie wholeheartedly – the script is on the middling side, after all, and I don’t blame folks who become bored halfway through the movie and give up on it. Think of this one as an acquired taste of sorts.
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