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Friday, September 21, 2012

Movie Review: Sleepwalk With Me

Based on his one-man off-Broadway show, Sleepwalk With Me was written by, directed by, and stars comedian Mike Birbiglia.  The film is part autobiographical and part fictional and follows Birbiglia as he struggles to establish himself as a professional stand-up comedian while also dealing with family and relationship issues and the ignorance of his sleepwalking disorder which becomes increasingly dangerous with the pressure.  Sleepwalk With Me premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and won the Best of NEXT Audience Award.

Birbiglia did a great job portraying how a sleepwalking disorder can go horribly wrong when ignored in a very realistic way while also making light of his problems via comedy.  The film is narrated by Birbiglia giving it the autobiographical vibe.  His narration seems very honest, almost like a confession at times, and at one point he even reminds the audience that “you’re on my side.”

Aside from the increasing concern of his family, the film also deals with Birbiglia’s struggling relationship with his girlfriend Abby (Lauren Ambrose), who is still waiting for him to pop the question after eight years.  The two create the chemistry of a clearly flawed relationship and Birbiglia’s parents, played by Carol Kane and James Rebhorn, are great as well.

I also found the stand-up element to be very realistic.  The film goes from Birbiglia bombing at open mics to getting his first paid gig at a sparsely attended college show to booking so many shows that it begins to take a toll on his relationship and well-being.

Sleepwalk With Me is a truly unique look at the trials and tribulations of a truly unique comic with an unfortunate condition.  This movie is really funny and at times utterly heart-breaking.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it and was pleasantly surprised.  There are also appearances from names like David Wain, Marc Maron, and more.

Not only is this an Indie worth seeing, but it is the type of film that deserves the support.  A must-see for anyone interested in stand-up and/or sleep disorders.

8/10 Birbiglias

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