A young couple, Kaia and Andrew, are renovating Kaia's secluded family estate. Their lives are violently disrupted upon the unexpected arrival of Kaia's sister, Christine, and her fiancé, Ira.
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★★★★ review by Bob on Letterboxd
The Sleepwalker is, according to Netflix, an understated movie. Understated typically means "thoughtful" but more often means slow. But slow isn't necessarily a bad thing. As Roger Ebert said (paraphrased), fast-moving thrillers can be boring while a fascinating character study can be intense. So which is the Sleepwalker?
The Sleepwalker starts off showing Gitte Witt's and her boyfriend fixing up her huge, beautiful family home. Late one night, Witt gets a phone call from Stephanie Ellis, her sister, who impulsively popped into town to visit. Ellis' frustrated boyfriend shows up the next morning to bring her home, but ends up persuaded to stay the day -- which turns into staying for a few days. The movie focuses on how the four characters interact, and also digs into the back story of the sisters.
The movie comes across as somewhat ambiguous, but my wife and I worked out a satisfactory explanation for the movie relatively quickly, which leads back to understated as "thoughtful" but, thankfully, not opaque. I'll post spoiler thoughts in the comments.
As for the movie, I enjoyed the music, the good visuals, the pacing, the slightly-off behavior of Ellis, the tension building in Witt's boyfriend as he grows frustrated with the situation, and what turned out to be a generally good character study where details are revealed through hints and observations instead of narration.
★★★½ review by Waldo on Letterboxd
Kaia is renovating her late dad's old country house with her boyfriend. Her sister arrives with news that she's pregnant and that she wants to make it up to her. Then the sister's fiancee arrives. Now the sisters and their respective partners are in this big old house and no one getting along. Oh, the sister is a little nuts, she sleepwalks and disappears from time to time. Family secrets, sibling rivalry, jealousy and some rage is boiling over. Nice little indie flick benefits from great young actors and a nice script.
★★★★ review by Olivier Lemay on Letterboxd
★★★½ review by Graig Gilkeson on Letterboxd
Now here is a movie that is flawed, but kind of fascinating, and has all sorts of interesting things floating around in it. Kaia (Gitt Witt) lives in the woods with her townie boyfriend Andrew (Christopher Abbot). They’re renovating a house that belonged to her father, but he's recently passed away, and years ago Kaia was burned in a mysterious fire in the garage, but we don’t need to talk about that yet. The Sleepwalker is Kaia’s half-sister Christine (Stephanie Ellis) who surprises her sister by showing up at the bus station one night and telling Kaia she’s pregnant. Her preppy boyfriend Ira (Brady Corbet) comes looking for her, and Christine seems happy to see him, but for some reason doesn’t want to leave, and they decide to spend some time together in the house. Ira seems polite, but there’s something kinda screwy about him. Andrew doesn’t like him and Ira doesn’t seem to like Andrew much either. Also have we mentioned that Christine seems to be a bit nuts and sleepwalks around the house in her underwear?
Director Mona Fastvoid sets the table for a very interesting Ingmar Bergman melodrama and keeps things effectively at a low simmer. Can't really blame someone who doesn't think this adds up to much at the end of the day, but for me it was a chilly and intoxicating thing to watch.
★★★★ review by jack_nance on Letterboxd
At the core of this story, which hints that getting away to the countryside may not be as relaxing and refreshing as you might think, is a dysfunctional relationship between two sisters.
Kaia and her partner Andrew are happily working at renovating the pastoral home of her childhood years when Christine appears suddenly and without invitation. Close on her heels is Ira, her fiancé, come to retrieve her but eventually joining her for an extended stay. Soon, though old wounds and petty conflicts begin to complicate things beyond salvage.
There seems to be a division between some viewers who find the film too long on style and too short on substance, and those, like myself, who buy into the claustrophobia and tension, well portrayed by all four leads, and find that the slow revelation of secrets to be an effective strategy.
Well designed and shot, with a stage-y feel, perhaps due to the enclosed nature of the action.
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