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2008-07-04 12:09
What it's about:

Joleen Reedy (Charlize Theron) is a single mother with no home, no money and a habit of getting involved with the wrong men. Her younger brother, James (Nick Stahl), lives a solitary and spiritless life as a construction worker. When Joleen arrives on James' doorstep with her 12-year-old daughter Tara, he has no choice but to share his one-roomed apartment with them. But then Joleen leaves without warning in the middle of the night, leaving her ill-equipped brother to take care of Tara.

What we thought of it:

Charlize Theron, who also co-produced Sleepwalking, returns to the type of role that's won her an Oscar – the down on her luck, white trash lost soul – and she certainly plays it well. Though the marketing of this film has put Charlize front and centre, she plays more of a supporting role with Stahl and Robb sharing lead duties. And so it should be as the two give impressive performances, which is even more of an achievement given that they have very little material to work with and are hampered by hapless editing.

The story is told in stark and depressingly bleak tones, with windswept, snow-capped landscapes that continually threaten to keep the pace of the story frozen in one gear – neutral. Robb seems to have an intuitive knack for playing the tormented young soul, despite her youth, and along with a suitably quirky cameo from Woody Harrelson, offers the only evidence of energy in this film. Dennis Hopper plays James and Joleen's father. While he attempts to portray the tough-talking brute, the role is under-written and instead he comes off as contrived and petty.

We never quite get into the heads of these sad characters, which only undoes the efforts of the director who tries to get us to actually care about what happens to his characters. Ultimately, Sleepwalking feels like a hollow and aimless experience and lays waste to the potential of its strong cast.

- Shaheema Barodien

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Charlize Theron, Nick Stahl and child star-in-the-making Anna Sophia Robb play the dysfunctional Reedy family, each battling their demons while drifting aimlessly through life.

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