I Can't Sleep

Overview

This French drama uses two plots that occasionally come together. The stories are set within the multiethnic neighborhoods of Paris. In the first, Daiga Yekaterina Golubeva, a spunky Lithuanian actress, drives into to town to collect on the promise of a director she slept with. He lied to her and now she, who speaks no French, must accept help from friends and relatives who set her up in a small hotel. She gets a job as a chambermaid. The second examines the lives of a large expatriate Caribbean family. Theo Alex...
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Overview

This French drama uses two plots that occasionally come together. The stories are set within the multiethnic neighborhoods of Paris. In the first, Daiga Yekaterina Golubeva, a spunky Lithuanian actress, drives into to town to collect on the promise of a director she slept with. He lied to her and now she, who speaks no French, must accept help from friends and relatives who set her up in a small hotel. She gets a job as a chambermaid. The second examines the lives of a large expatriate Caribbean family. Theo Alex Descas, a musician, takes small carpentry jobs for wealthy Parisians to support his young daughter. He really wants to go home to Martinique, but his daughter's mother doesn't want to. Theo's brother Camille Richard Courcet has real problems. He is the wild one. Dressed in his fishnet stockings and garish makeup, Camille sings at the local gay club. He sleeps with his lover also his doctor in the same hotel as Daiga. Camille seems nice enough until it is discovered that he is not only a drug addict and HIV-positive, he also strangles old women to death while a partner robs their homes. Camille seems oddly distant from his actions, which he calmly describes.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Wheeler Winston Dixon
I Can't Sleep is a creepily brilliant film from director Claire Denis, who, along with Chantal Akerman, is making some of the most disturbingly original films today. Denis burst on the international film scene with her 1988 film Chocolat, and after a string of films barely released in the United States, created the stunning and disquieting I Can't Sleep (J'ai Pas Sommeil), which centers on the activities of two nocturnal serial killers who terrorize Paris, who murder elderly women in their apartments in "push-in" robberies. Despite the sordid subject matter, the film doesn't fall into the usual mold of the serial killer film. Denis is more interested in the lives of her two killers, and in the non-reaction of most Parisians, who go about their business while the headlines play up the grisly details of the killings. Part of the film takes place in the gay subculture of Paris' nightclubs and cafes; other sections of the film focus on a young woman who has drifted into Paris from Lithuania, and waits for something to happen while she supports herself with a menial job. As with Chantal Akerman's films, it is precisely what doesn't happen in the film that generates the greatest audience interest: the lack of chase scenes, the nonexistence of typical suspense intercutting, and above all the sense of everyday mundanity in all things, which often occur without any reason or explanation. Denis' biggest U.S. hit is undoubtedly the superb Billy Budd adaptation Beau Travail (1999), which got a fairly wide arthouse break in major cities. Much of Denis' most accomplished work, including The Intruder (L'Intrus, 2004), plays only at festivals, and never appears on DVD. This is a shame, because Denis' vision is absolutely unique, and deeply felt, and deserves a wider audience. Happily, I Can't Sleep is readily available on DVD, and is highly recommended.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/11/1998
  • UPC: 717119062637
  • Original Release: 1994
  • Rating:

  • Source: New Yorker Video
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Yekaterina Golubeva Daiga
Richard Courcet Camille
Line Renaud Ninon
Béatrice Dalle Mona
Alex Descas Theo
Sophie Simon Alice
Irina Grjebina Mina
Tolsty Ossip
Vincent Dupont Raphael
Patrick Grandperret Abel
Solveig Dommartin
Laurent Grévill le docteur
Technical Credits
Claire Denis Director, Screenwriter
Arnaud de Moleron Art Director
Jean-Pol Fargeau Screenwriter
Thierry Flamand Production Designer
Claire Fraisse Costumes/Costume Designer
Agnès Godard Cinematographer
Thierry Lebon Sound/Sound Designer
John Pattison Score Composer
Nelly Quettier Editor
Jean-Louis Ughetto Sound/Sound Designer
Fabienne Vonier Associate Producer
Ruth Waldburger Associate Producer
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