At first, it seems to be just another love-triangle trifle for hip twentysomethings—Jules and Jim meets Generation X in California. And Sleep with Me does turn out to be featherbedlight. But as the story unfolds, the sharp, quirky intelligence behind the camera comes into focus. Actually, Sleep with Me was scripted by six male friends, including novice director Rory Kelly. The collaborators, each of whom wrote a segment of the movie, have come up with some tart dialogue and astute observations on late-breaking trends in love and friendship. In Sleep with Me, guys can joke that there might be homoerotic tension between heterosexual buddies. And gals go on loving the men who hate women because they get a certain thrill out of putting misogynists through the wringer. Just about everybody, meanwhile, is a recovering commitment-phobe.
SLEEP WITH ME
Directed by Rory Kelly
The plot of Sleep with Me does not amount to much—the title pretty well says it all. Joseph (Eric Stoltz) and Sarah (Meg Tilly) have been living together for years. While on a road trip with their friend Frank (Craig Sheffer), Joseph proposes to Sarah. Several months later, the two say their vows, but not before Sarah confesses to Frank that she once considered making a play for him. Then, Frank, of course, realizes that he has always been in love with Sarah and absolutely must have her.
Tension mounts between the two young
men during a series of poker games, dinners and parties. The gatherings are the real substance of the movie: for this crowd, friendship has replaced family ties as the main social dynamic. And it’s in those scenes that the filmmakers’ acuity is apparent Most of the couples, it seems, need to air their private frustrations in front of their pals, who watch the ragged, volatile fights that ensue with a mixture of horror and amusement.
Eventually, the rivalry between Joseph and Frank becomes the main event. But there are a number of hilarious side attractions, including a wacky diatribe delivered by the party guest from hell (played by film-maker Quentin Tarantino), who argues interminably that the Tom Cruise movie Top Gun is really about the hero’s close call with homosexuality.
Occasionally, the characters’ pronouncements about relationships are fatuous. “Marriage can be like a bad night of poker,” one husband laments. “It can break you, and you can leave with nothing.” And one casualty of the movie’s script-committee origins is character. Although Sheffer does his best to be affecting, Frank is a one-note construct—the immature romantic. Joseph, meanwhile, is the weakest link, an average guy who gets few distinguishing characteristics in Stoltz’s portrayal. Ultimately, the film is more about a state of mind than real people. And, sure, Gen-X angst is becoming, like, tiring. But there is enough wit and energy in Sleep with Me to make the audience want to stay up and watch.
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