Review: Light Sleeper
Blu-ray: Light Sleeper (1992)
Set against the dark rain soaked streets of a New York city covered in litter due to a sanitation strike, director Paul Schrader uses neon lighting and shadows (as so effectively utilised in American Gigalo) to create the backdrop to the life of John LeTour (Willem Dafoe); a reformed addict who is dealing drugs for his bosses Ann (Susan Sarandon) and Robert (David Clennon).
LeTour is still affected by the break-up from his “wife” (their marriage wasn’t legally valid) Marianne (Dana Delany), and when their paths inadvertently cross once again, past misdeeds come back to haunt them with devastating consequences.
The score by Michael Been is prominent throughout the whole of Light Sleeper, as much of the running time is spent following the characters in self introspection, specifically LeTour, who, thanks to the performance of Willem Dafoe, exudes palpable emotion shifts with the smallest changes of facial expressions.
Sarandan’s character is authoritative and confident, yet through a series of events beyond her control eventually shows her vulnerability to LeTour, climaxing in a scene, that while always inevitable, was completely forged through the events that preceded it.
Light Sleeper is a story of redemption, of longing, the fear of losing control, with the odd moment of violence being mere punctuation points in a deeper narrative about the human soul, and encapsulates the saying of “You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”
It’s slow paced narrative may not be to everyones taste, but the incremental changes to LeTour’s psyche can not be rushed, with each moment that passes changing his character irrevocably.
Take the time to walk a mile in his shoes, it is a journey you may well enjoy taking.
This UK blu-ray premiere from Powerhouse Films features some very interesting special features, including a 2002 commentary by director Paul Schrader that answers many of the questions you may well have thought while watching the feature.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
- High Definition remaster
- Original mono audio
- Audio commentary with writer and director Paul Schrader (2002)
- Selected scenes commentary with actors Willem Dafoe and Susan Sarandon (2002, 18 mins)
- The Guardian Interview with Willem Dafoe (1998, 66 mins): archival audio recording of the actor in conversation with critic Jonathan Romney, recorded at London’s National Film Theatre
- The Midlife Movie (2021, 18 mins): Paul Schrader remembers the production of Light Sleeper
- The BAM Interview with Ed Lachman and Paul Schrader (2008, 31 mins): the cinematographer and director in conversation on-stage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York, after a screening of Light Sleeper
- Dear Paul Schrader, Thank You for ‘Light Sleeper’ (2021, 11 mins): a personal meditation on Schrader’s film from the critic and filmmaker Mark Cousins
- Original theatrical trailer
- Image gallery: promotional and publicity materials
- New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
- Limited edition exclusive 36-page booklet with a new essay by Christina Newland, an archival on-set report for Sight and Sound by Kevin Jackson, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
- UK premiere on Blu-ray
- Limited edition of 3,000 copies
Light Sleeper is released 25th January 2021 by Powerhouse Films.