Cannes 2011: THE OTHER SIDE OF SLEEP Review

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Cannes 2011: THE OTHER SIDE OF SLEEP Review
A hazy sort of fever dream, Rebecca Daly's The Other Side Of Sleep drifts through tragedy at a languid pace that matches the mood of its sleep deprived protagonist. Though the core of the story is a small town murder Daly is not at all interested in presenting a thriller here but rather a languid mood piece, a meditation on grief buried and delayed.

Antonia Campbell-Hughes is Arlene, a young woman living alone in a blue collar backwater. Arlene is a quiet, solitary soul - one her makes her living as a laborer in a local factory. Her life would be completely unremarkable if not for the tragedy of her childhood. Arlene's mother, you see, was the victim of a murder when only in her twenties, leaving Arlene alone and parentless from her earliest days. And though Arlene shows little outwardly to mark the loss her inner restlessness has expressed itself as sleepwalking ever since, her nightly excursions taking her god only knows where with Arlene frequently waking in the morning dirty and scratched.

And that would be the end of Arlene's story if not for the young woman killed in the woods just outside of town in the opening minutes. The similarities to her mother's own death are remarkable and Arlene finds herself drawn inexorably towards those at the center of the tragedy, both the grieving family and the former boyfriend suspected of the murder.

This is the sort of premise that you might expect to drive some sort of investigational thriller with the young woman purging her own demons by solving someone else's crime. But director and co-writer Rebecca Daly has something else entirely in mind. Arlene is no detective, no sleuth. She is simply a young woman with a great many unresolved issues who cannot stay away from this grieving family, people who she feels an instinctive emotional connection to based on their shared history.

Daly keeps plot to an absolute minimum throughout, emphasizing mood rather than action. As the story progresses and Arlene becomes increasingly afraid of nightly sleepwalking - there is a killer out there, after all - she goes to greater and greater lengths to keep herself contained and awake at night and as her fatigue grows the tone of the film grows correspondingly hazy. Arlene's fight is not at all to find a killer but simply to find an emotional bond with someone who has shared a similar experience to her own.

Daly has a very strong eye for composition and draws a quality performance out of Campbell-Hughes, who is asked to convey a lot while doing very little. Though the sort of film that will struggle to find an audience thanks to its refusal to slip into any particular genre or pick up the pace, The Other Side Of Sleep is a very promising debut for Daly.

The Other Side of Sleep

  • Rebecca Daly
  • Rebecca Daly
  • Glenn Montgomery
  • Sam Keeley
  • Antonia Campbell-Hughes
  • Cathy Belton
  • Olwen Fouere
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Rebecca DalyGlenn MontgomerySam KeeleyAntonia Campbell-HughesCathy BeltonOlwen FouereDramaMystery

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