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Award-winning “Sleepwalk With Me” is coming up from below through independent theaters across the nation. Armed with an all-star cast of comedians, including Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose and Wyatt Cenac,and crew from many creative backgrounds, it’ll make your head spin.
The film, which centers upon an aspiring stand-up comic dealing with a sleepwalking disorder and an eight-year-long relationship pressuring him into marriage. It is full of quirk and real-life charm, which is increasingly absent in today’s cinema.
The most interesting part of “Sleepwalk With Me” is the backstory. It is based on the life of comic Mike Birbiglia. His experience evolved from a comedy act to a monologue to a radio show and, finally, to film. Birbiglia wrote, directed and plays himself in the film. Some of the sets are actual locations where the original events took place. To add to the film’s already unique creation process, it was also produced by Ira Glass, host of the radio show “This American Life.”
Birbiglia and Glass met when Birbiglia presented the film’s story on an August 2008 “American Life” segment called “Fear of Sleep.” Then, Birbiglia and his brother, Joe, started writing the script after and rewrote it several times.
The movie chronicles Birbiglia’s journey toward stand-up comedy success as he discovers humour is in his day-to-day life. He deals with a relationship that is accelerating too fast for his liking and his dangerous sleepwalking habit.
From the dialogue to the font used in the titles, “Sleepwalk With Me” is an indie film. However, that isn’t to say it’s cliche. It utilizes many of the tried and true methods established over the past decade in indie movies like “(500) Days of Summer” and “Juno.” Most of its originality stems from the raw, true nature of the story. The entire creative endeavor is directly from the mind of Birbiglia, which makes it fluid. The jokes are spot-on and share a similar brand of humor that draws the work together.
The structure of the film works with Birbiglia acknowledging and talking to the audience. He narrates the story as he drives, gets gas and eats a pastry. The cinematography is excellent. It’s not distracting, but rather, it accurately portrays the fear Birbiglia feels as he dodges missiles, outruns wild beasts and wins races in his dreams or the awkwardness of his early stand-up attempts.
The soundtrack works in the same way, progressing the movie without drawing any kind of attention to itself. At the end of the day, the film is beautifully acted, lit, shot, directed and edited. The viewer doesn’t notice anything except Birbiglia’s humor and the story. “Sleepwalk With Me” is more than enough to captivate anyone for two hours.
Because of the lack of filmmaking experience but extreme creativity of those who crafted “Sleepwalk With Me,” the product is intriguing. It has gone through many mediums, so it is polished, hilarious, thoughtful and, at times, heartbreaking. Despite the fact that it is only showing in 50 theaters across the U.S., it is both a critical success and film festival award winner. If the chance to see itb presents itself, the film is worth the $9 ticket price.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Jacob Spetzler at Jacob.firstname.lastname@example.org.