Monday, September 9, 2019

State Like Sleep


Starring Katherine Waterston and Michael Shannon, this neo-noir mystery and drama is about Katherine, who was in the middle of splitting with her actor husband (Michiel Huisman) when he killed himself. A year later and still unable to put it to rest, she begins investigating under the suspicion that he may have actually been murdered.

Coincidentally, I slept on this movie, and now regret it a tiny bit. There's been plenty worse this year.

It was the noir part that drew me to this, and it was the noir part that I enjoyed the most. It had the noir tone, and yes, the noir pitfalls too. At least one big plot hole I noticed when it was all said and done, and as sometimes happens with noirs, the story gets increasingly distracted from the mystery and turns its attention toward character. Katherine was an interesting character, classically broken and cynical for the genre, and I enjoyed watching her go around all depressed and confused, pursuing what she needed to in order to move on. My favorite parts specifically were her conversations with Shannon's character.

I guess you could say they had good chemistry, but mostly, and most importantly, what they had was good writing: conversations and lines that revealed character in subtle and fascinating ways. Their conversations progressed their characters; something that is all too often missing from scripts it seems. But though it has that one aspect, that doesn't make it a decidedly good script. It still was insensible at times, and doesn't follow through on too many of its promises. Viewers looking forward to a meaty mystery will certainly be disappointed; fans of mind-bending conclusions, the same.

I like the idea of the movie more than I do the movie, I think.

The plot effectively drifts away, and while this does serve the character in its way, it will easily leave viewers dissatisfied, especially when they don't know what to expect and then are encouraged by the early stages of the plot to expect a solid and satisfying mystery. So take this review as a disclaimer. Those more interested to see a noirish character drama play out between Katherine and Michael Shannon, Katherine and Michiel Huisman, and Katherine and Katherine will get more mileage than those looking for a sordid mystery to chew on.

Even with that disclaimer, the movie is not exceptional; you've likely seen it all done better elsewhere. For me, with the drawing and talented cast, and my insatiable appetite for noir films, it would have been hard to disappoint me completely. Still, I wish I had read a review like this to point my expectations in the right direction; so maybe with this I can help potential viewers get the most out of this movie's less than giving state.

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