Review: ‘The Deep and Dreamless Sleep’

A freewheeling urban retelling of Dante's "Divine Comedy" set on the unkind-to-truly mean streets of contempo New York, "The Deep and Dreamless Sleep" features kinetic visuals, naturalistic perfs and a frequently compelling take on a 700-year-old poem. Beyond fests, venture is a modest hard sell, so abandon hype all ye who enter here.

A freewheeling urban retelling of Dante’s “Divine Comedy” set on the unkind-to-truly mean streets of contempo New York City, “The Deep and Dreamless Sleep” features kinetic visuals, naturalistic perfs and a frequently compelling take on a 700-year-old poem. Viewers who dislike restless lensing and scruffy young people may label this a circle of Hell but,  drawing heavily on the original verse for its dialogue, pic has strong classroom prospects in the same vein as Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet.” Beyond fests, venture is a modest hard sell, so abandon hype all ye who enter here. Pic world preemed in Avignon.

After bittersweet prelude in which two animated dolls discover their eternal bond, trusting Emma (Tami Reynolds) arrives at the Port Authority to search for her lost love. Streetwise Brady (Kris Park) volunteers to be Emma’s guide. Together they undertake a pilgrimage awash in challenges and obstacles en route to Paradise. Conceptual highlights including a bondage session that asks the rhetorical question “But what is torment to a soul that craves it?” and the novel sacrifice of a reel of 16mm film. Wall-to-wall score is inventive.

The Deep and Dreamless Sleep

Production

A Film Crash presentation in association with O'Hara/Klein of a Harrison/Blumberg production. Produced by Matthew Harrison, Daniel Blumberg. Executive producer, Eric M. Klein. Directed by Matthew Harrison. Screenplay, Harrison, based on Dante Alighieri's poem "The Divine Comedy."

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, 16mm, Super-8, DV), Harrison; special sequences photographed by Howard Krupa; editor, Johannes Weuthen; music, Lee Curreri, Peter Freeman, Jeff Rona; sound, Lisa K. Fowle; doll animation, Gina Garan; associate producers, Edy Enriquez, Alex Macleod, Kris Park; casting, Sheila Jaffe. Reviewed at Avignon Film Festival (competing), France, June 23, 2006. Running time: 81 MIN.

With

Tami Reynolds, Kris Park, Ivan Martin, Neil Jain, John Ortiz.
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