Love is Pizza Flavored Ice Cream and Denial

Cutesy isn't a thing I go for in a movie...and when a movie opens with a thirtysomething Brooklyn-looking dude talking at a camera/audience (Eeps! We ARE the camera!) as he seemingly goes about his everyday life- driving a car, doing a thing- I was a little nervous I was heading down cutesy lane. But, as This American Life contributor (the NPR program who also acted as the production team behind this movie)/writer/comedian/actor Mike Birbiglia's film Sleepwalk With Me slowly opened up in front of me I saw more than cutesy... I saw a bittersweet love story of awkward moments that make up a certain kind of life, a life that can sometimes lean towards cutesy/whiny/Dave Eggers territory but in this case headed more towards a funny sweetness that says much more about modern indie-rock man than those inflated pseudo-intellectual stories that have become commonplace when it comes to contemporary white-boy tales.

The filmmaking was slightly clunky, which I think might have had something to do with the fact that it was based on a book & play (monologues on a stage are one thing but translating them into the endless possibilities of film takes some skill)...a mix of non-fiction (and probably some fiction of course), the aforementioned "narrator talking at camera from the not-so-distant-future," low budget dream sequences, narrative scenes- combining to tell the story of a relationship between an artsy vocal coach (Lauren Ambrose, who will always be Claire from Six Feet Under) and a struggling comedian/bartender (Mike Birbiglia). I feel like I've seen a lot of hipster-y relationship movies coming around lately, which makes sense given we're of the age, but why are they all so afraid of marriage?...and then it makes me wonder if it is a universal fear or just the fear of white, young filmmakers who are living out their lives in a particular way that isn't conducive to this sort of commitment? Films being their babies? Filmmakers being babies? At least this film approaches the first world problems of the hipster aging epidemic through sleep walking and humor as opposed to uppity nonsense...but that doesn't mean the settings (colleges, all too familiar Brooklyn bars, brownstones, sleek weddings, hand me down station wagons) and basic angsty feeling towards responsibility aren't the same...

The heart of this film though is the stand up of Birbiglia. His observations on life grow with his character in the film, finding humor first in Sesame Street but ending in the hilarious limitations of hetero-normative lives (something like "I've decided I'm not going to get married unless I'm sure nothing else good can happen in my life."), while also finding humor in most other things in today's (upper middle class) world too ("Your mother bought this cake on the internet.")...the sleepwalking part seems only a minor section of Birbiglia's story except for when you view it as the metaphor it is: we're acting out the expectations of others conscious ideas of the world- marriage, kids, career-a dreamy state of reality that we navigate, dodging the needs and wants of others in search of ourselves only to find what we really desire in our dreams, a thing that can be both harmful and hilarious...and not always accomodating to the needs of others. Even though I am painting it as a downer, the movie wasn't really a downer, it was actually a sort of comedy...but everybody knows that comedy really does come from painful reality and, in some weird conscious and unconscious state our thirtysomething population of overeducated white kids are trying to figure out what a future means for us. Comedy? Tragedy? Babies? Jobs? I don't fucking know where we are headed by any means but I do know I will get there laughing...and probably, like Birbiglia, with my mom's EZPass. Sleepwalk With Me is probably a better book than a movie but that doesn't mean I can't relate to it and it also doesn't mean I didn't laugh hard at the stereotypes of my peers, and myself, as we all unwillingly hurtle into our pre-mid life crises...sleepwalking down aisles and laughing at what we fear most.


 

About

Please visit TEAM DONNA K. for more information about this blog and other creative pursuits of Donna Kozloskie.