Light Sleeper (Retro Reviews)

We are as god made us. It’s unfair to judge anyone based on their looks (unless some questionable modifications were made along the way). That being said, watching Willem Dafoe as any character in a relationship always feels like a stretch. Not that he couldn’t be in or maintain a relationship, but he has the most intense face in film for a “leading man” and I find it hard to fathom the girl sticking around. Seriously, imagine you’re having sex or coffee with Willem Defoe. His intensity is always 11.

Totally Normal Appearing Person

Looks aside, the real intensity in this movie is the way he pines over a girl he just recently bumped into from his past. It’s light on details, but they both used drugs and are now clean. She is clearly trying to move on with her life but Defoe, our hero, consistently creeps all over her, sneaks into her mother’s hospital room and funeral (spoiler) until she breaks down screaming at him. He seems caring, but it also comes off as obsessive and unlikable.

Sorry this doesn’t even have much to do with the plot which is he’s a middle-aged drug dealer whose boss, Susan Sarandon, is retiring to sell cosmetics. So he’s stressed about the future, concerned about his life (drug dealer issues) and all the while trying to find time to harass his ex. I’m just gonna say it right now, she kills herself (maybe) at one point and for a moment I thought Defoe was going to make a move on her sister at the funeral (the daughter’s, not the mom’s). Would not have put it past him.

There’s nothing overly watchable here. I’d say it’s a nice New York time capsule, but it’s set in the early-90s and there’s a (real) garbage strike going on so nothing is very eye-catching. Think about the first The Real World. It looks like that, but with trash everywhere.


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