Film Review: State Like Sleep

Writer-director Meredith Danluck’s State Like Sleep is a slow-burn thriller. Despite its talented cast, the film is indolent.

Katherine returns to Brussels, a year after the death of her famous actor husband. As she visits her ailing mother, Katherine attempts to find out what happened to her late husband in the days leading to his death…

Written and directed by Meredith Danluck, State Like Sleep crosses a mystery thriller with a drama. The film takes a little while to get going. In the meantime, Danluck establishes the protagonist Katherine and the background to her return to Brussels. The narrative unfolds through a series of flashbacks as Katherine grapples with her past and the troubles of her present.

The question over the death of Stefan is positioned at the centre of the film, once the narrative gets going. Yet the mystery is not gripping in a traditional sense. As Katherine attempts to find answers, viewers are not enveloped with notable twists or satisfying reveals. State Like Sleep is more concerned with exploring grief than offering an open-and-shut case. The theme of hiding is returned to throughout. From the very beginning, when Katherine makes her escape from the apartment, it is clear that this is a character wary of the spotlight. The focus on grief makes for a thoughtful drama, but hinders momentum as far as the thriller aspects are concerned.

State Like Sleep‘s downfall is in this lack of drive. The film takes a while to get going, and even when the central plot emerges the film has no sense of momentum. There are a number of strands, but none of these lead anywhere satisfactory. Danluck’s film needed a sense of urgency which is sadly missing. Performances are solid throughout, despite the narrative. Katherine Waterston is a strong protagonist, and Michael Shannon always delivers.

State Like Sleep is a let down thanks to the lack of narrative drive. The themes explored a decent; the film is just lacking a good plot.

State Like Sleep will be available on Digital Download from 18th November and can be bought here

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