The Count and His Cristos

I just want to shut my eyes and not have to see the places I’ve been.
— Michael

Sleepers (1996) is a dark film about abuse and truth, with enough courage not to dish out a happy ending. It’s not a perfect film, not even close, its moralising rings a little hollow, like the plot didn’t quite live up to the message its creators were trying so hard to deliver.

Ever since watching Princess Mononoke I’ve been much more conscious of the fragility of moralising in film. Princess Mononoke rises above decreeing good and evil where Hollywood has never really been able to manage that. Sleepers is no exception.

The acting was excellent though, even when the writing let the stars down. Dustin Hoffman’s small part is one of the most compelling in the film, his talents all the more vivid as he plays the washed up lawyer to perfection. Father Bobby, played by Robert De Niro, is another great character and one of the few whose moral posture is left open to the interpretation of the reader.

The style and cinematography are well matched to the writing, with the scenes in Hell’s Kitchen seeming particularly true to the mythos of Manhattan’s West Side

Kenneth Turan of the LA Times ultimately concluded of Sleepers that “it’s difficult to take this film as seriously as it takes itself”, and I think that’s fair and apt.

It makes for good cinema, I’d even recommend it, but it’s not the gem it aimed to be.

The man I know is not the boy you remember.
— Carol