Chasing Sleep | Chicago Reader

Chasing Sleep

Jeff Daniels stars in this 2000 psychological thriller as a small town college instructor who finds his wife missing and, while seeking help, is visited at home by a stream of strangers, including two detectives (Ben Shenkman and Gil Bellows), a solicitous student (Emily Bergl), and his wife's lover (Julian McMahon). Writer-director Michael Walker refers frequently to Hitchcock (Rear Window) and David Lynch (Twin Peaks) in constructing a detective story totally from the viewpoint of the pill-popping husband, who imagines that he might have murdered his wife during a hallucinatory attack. Yet despite Daniels's nerve-racking performance, the suspense is hollow, because the victim remains anonymous and the motive (of casual infidelity) is hardly compelling. Walker does pull an impressive Kubrickian trick by turning the antiseptic, deteriorating house into a metaphor for Daniels's mental state. The straightforward yet portentous cinematography is by Jim Denault (Boys Don't Cry). 97 min.


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