TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘The Sleepwalkers’

TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘The Sleepwalkers’

Luisa’s (Erica Rivas) constant routine involves caring for her daughter Ana (Ornella D’elia), who occasionally sleepwalks. Ana also gets her first period, an experience she tries, unsuccessfully, to hide from Luisa.

Complicating Luisa and Ana’s situation is a New Years’ family vacation with the former’s husband, Emilio. Luis Ziembrowski plays the clueless father who has to return to his rural childhood home.

That home still belongs to Emilio’s mother Meme (Marilu Marini), who plays host to three generations. One of the guests is Alejo (Rafael Federman), who develops a strange bond with Ana.

All credit is due to the way it depicts Ana’s growth as she becomes more rebellious. If anything, her free will makes Luisa rethink her sense of duty to her strange family.

The same goes for the way it shows Luisa’s thought process about being a mother. It also explores her relationship with Meme, who might as well be her own mother.

The visual language depicting these relationships, however, feel somehow too claustrophobic for an enjoyable cinematic experience. Tight, shaky close-ups are cheap ways to make its audiences feel as tense as possible.

Another pet peeve of mine is the cliche of making young characters into occasional phone addicts. That’s basically who Ana is, unless she’s hanging out with Alejo more than she should be.

The Sleepwakers has a left turn that causes the family to direct its anger on the right person. But that comes in too late, unable to erase the film’s previous ickiness.

For more info on The Sleepwalkers go to https://www.tiff.net/events/the-sleepwalkers.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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