Magnolia Pictures // 2009 // 106 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 22nd, 2009
Noir on PCP.
It's been a while since I've seen an original noir picture. Up or down, that's what The Perfect Sleep is; probably unlike anything you've seen before.
Is he dead or in Limbo? Or just out in Idaho somewhere? Who knows where the hitman comes from, but he's back to seek revenge and reconnect with the love of his life and childhood BFF, Porphyria (Rosalyn Sanchez). To do that, he's going to have to carve his way through the criminal underworld and the forces of another boyhood chum, now a big shot ganglord.
The Perfect Sleep is a fairly difficult film to negotiate, but there's no denying the quality of the craftsmanship. This is thick, smoky noir, wrapped in weirdness, and served up with a metaphysical twist. If that tickles your fancy, then give this one a spin.
While the plot is somewhat impenetrable, it's the execution of the story that stands out. The film is narrated by Anton Pardoe, who guides the viewer through the serpentine character and plot pivots. I wish I could say the narration is illuminating, but the monologues are more atmospheric than informational. In fact, this method flirts very close with being gimmicky, and it would be, if the rest of the film was shoddy stuff. But it isn't...and it isn't. Actually, Pardoe's narration helps make the movie what it is, a macabre tale that effectively mixes dark humor with a straight revenge tale. You can almost picture the guy reading his lines with a cigar in one hand and a dry martini the other, tipping his fedora, and doing what guys in noir movies do. Maybe playing poker with dogs?
Beyond the narrator and the tone is an obtuse plot that just manages to squeak by on points. At its core, the story of The Perfect Sleep is a simple one: one guy (and a memorable crazy murderous doctor) versus a bunch of jackasses, with his girl caught in the middle. Simple, but effective.
That's all I've got for this release. Fans of bizarre film noir might find something of value, but I hesitate granting The Perfect Sleep a full recommendation to the general population. It may be a bit too bizarre.
Magnolia's DVD looks great in a tight 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, supplemented by a decent 5.1 surround mix. Only one bonus for you: an image gallery.
I like a lot about this flick. Can't quite give it a sterling thumbs up, though.
Not Guilty. Bog off.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 106 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Image Gallery