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With: Katherine Waterston, Michiel Huisman, Luke Evans, Michael Shannon, Mary Kay Place, Julie Kahner
Written by: Meredith Danluck
Directed by: Meredith Danluck
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 104
Date: 01/04/2019

State Like Sleep (2019)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Nobody Doze

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

As the title suggests, this so-called thriller could be trying to emulate a dreamlike or sleepwalking state, but instead it tells a terminally disjointed, boring story in a way that can induce sleep.

In State Like Sleep, Katherine (Katherine Waterston) gets a shock when successful actor husband Stefan (Michiel Huisman) commits suicide. A year later, she gets a call that her mother (Mary Kay Place) is in the hospital in Brussels, near where her old apartment sits, largely untouched after the death.

She begins to wonder what happened, and begins searching for clues, starting with a nightclub that Stefan frequented, and run by his old friend Emile (Luke Evans). Meanwhile, in her hotel she meets a mysterious stranger, Edward (Michael Shannon), and Katherine's investigation begins to grow uncertain. Will she ever discover Stefan's secret?

Written and directed by Meredith Danluck, State Like Sleep comes up with many little "clues" that suggest Stefan's suicide was not a suicide, such as a mysterious photo of him with a woman, and the fact that his exit wound is on the opposite side of his dominant hand, but nothing ever comes of these; they're shrugged off as if the filmmakers were simply too tired to deal with them.

Moreover, though Shannon is always a commanding actor, his presence in the movie is completely useless. Normally this kind of peripheral character will tie into the mystery in some way, but State Like Sleep only suggests a possibility that he knows something. It's left ambiguous in a wholly unsatisfying, frustrating way.

Not to mention that the drifting, apathetic pace completely sucks any life out of the mystery, just as the details of the mystery kill the idea of a "dreamlike" movie. At least Waterston is watchable going through the motions; her tormented, pain-filled performance is the only link that connects the rest of this misplaced movie.

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