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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jun 4, 2017

Sleepless Movie Review: Not Your Usual Feel Good Romance With The Conventional Happy Ending

‘SLEEPLESS’ is an indie film first shown in QCinema Filmfest 2015, with Dominic Roco winning the best actor award over formidable competitors like Sid Lucero in “Apocalypse Child” and Junjun Quintana in “Water Lemon”. Last week, it was finally given a wider release in SM Cinemas through Cine Lokal and we’re glad that it did quite well at the box office, so more theaters were added during its one-week run. When we watched it at SM North Edsa, the theater was about half full, which, for an indie film without much commercial value, is already good in that venue.

Glaiza de Castro is Gem, a call center agent who can speak with a fake American and British accent. She lives alone in her condo unit and has trouble sleeping, among other things, because of her ruined body clock. Dominic is Barry, a new agent who is assigned to Gem for training. They quickly find a meaningful relationship in becoming good friends with each other. Since both of them have trouble sleeping, they spend hours through the wee hours of the morning, exchanging all sorts of stories ranging from their work and personal lives to what will you do when zombies attack in a zombie apocalypse.

They’re both lonely and lead messed up lives. Gem is the mistress of a married man (TJ Trinidad) who’s obviously just after sex and she also has a strained relationship with her mom (Irma Adlawan) who has remarried and has a new daughter. Barry, in turn, is estranged from his former girlfriend who has moved to Canada with their son. Barry misses the boy so much and his dream is to follow them to Canada.

A lot of times, they’re just shown talking to each other while eating instant noodles, playing games and concocting wild stories about the people they see around them, but they never complain about their jobs that keep them awake at night. Maybe a lot of today’s millennials who live in isolation, make a lot of mistakes and lead similarly fucked up lives will be able to relate well and identify with them.

But it being so leisurely paced, creating a slow burn, most regular viewers just looking for escapism, and who don’t like their movies chatty, will easily get bored and find “Sleepless” actually sleep-inducing. Suckers for Star Cinema romance will also be alienated as it’s not your usual romcom with the traditional happy ending as the would be lovers don’t really fall in love and end up in each other’s arms, since this is actually more of a love story between caring friends and not FUBU friends with benefits.

The film certainly has it merits, foremost of which is the relaxed and credible performances of both the lead stars. Glaiza has many quiet moments where she is shown just staring to the “kawalan”, her face looking blank but still very lovely. She deserves to be given bigger, more demanding roles in bigger, better projects.

Then there’s the fairly good cinematography that presents a lot of good shots of the the city, especially at night. The characters are just examples of today’s highly urbanized people who rush to and fro in the metropolis, each one with his own story to tell and the world just goes on spinning with or without them.

New songs made by little known writers and singers are heard throughout the movie and millennial viewers with a taste for alternative music will surely be able to relate with them. There are also some scenes that make use of animation that might symbolize the monotony and boredom felt by the characters, but instead of helping move the story forward, we find them quite unnecessary and distracting.

It’s good that Director Prime Cruz and writer-partner Jenny Chuaunsu eventually saw the light and abandoned the idea. Let’s now see how their indie sensibilities will fare in their first mainstream assignment, Star Cinema’s “Can We Still Be Friends?”

Going back to “Sleepless”, in the end, Gem makes a choice and finds closure in her own muddled relationship with her married lover. She then also does a good and very unselfish turn for Barry that gives him the chance to fly to Canada and meet his son. Their final farewell scene at the airport is quite touching. And yes, at long last, Gem finds peace within herself and… falls asleep.