It’s no secret that movies are a poor representation of real life. The guy gets the girl, everyone’s happy in the end, and life and love are simple and uninhibited. Rarely do we, the viewer, get a chance to see an honest portrayal of how complicated and multifaceted a relationship really is. Sleepwalk With Me is just that, possibly the most honest movie I have ever seen, the tell-all story of a hilarious and slightly neurotic man trying to figure out his relationship with his girlfriend of eight years. Witty, moving, and a little bit tragic, Sleepwalk With Me may not be a perfect film, but it is certainly a memorable one.
Based loosely on his successful one man show, Sleepwalk With Me is Mike Birbiglia’s semi-autobiographical account of his relationship with his longtime girlfriend. Matt Pandamiglio (Birbiglia) is a bartender with dreams of being a comedian. Matt’s life takes a turn for the complicated when his sister gets engaged, putting pressure on Matt to propose to Abby (Lauren Ambrose) his girlfriend of nine years. As his life becomes more stressful, Matt begins to skip work to try his hand as a touring comic, driving innumerable hours to perform cheap gigs, a decision that seems to aggravate his already complex sleepwalking condition.
With just one film, Birbiglia has already drawn comparisons to Woody Allen in his approach to film making, and it isn’t hard to see why. Much like Allen, Birbiglia frequently breaks the forth wall, speaking directly to the audience, and does have a similar awkward style of comedy. However, the comparison most likely comes from the way they approach the auto-biographical nature of their film making. It is one thing to tell your life story in a movie, but Birbiglia does a great job of creating a personal narrative without incorporating personal bias. Alas, he makes a few very poor decisions in his movie, things that easily could have been left out to protect his image, but Birbiglia is not here to obfuscate the truth. He’s here to show us the truth with all it’s blunders and bruises. That kind of honestly is rare, and something that shouldn’t be overlooked when evaluating this film.
While this film does come off as a bit unpolished at points, it in no way detracts from the film. I would actually argue that it adds to its “personality”, if a film can have such a thing, and really does give the viewers an opportunity to connect to this movie on a more personal level. Sleepwalk With Me is a joy to watch, and not a film I will likely forget.
Rating: 4 out of 5