‘State Like Sleep’ Review: A Suspicious Suicide Drives This Suffocating Thriller | Modern Society of USA

‘State Like Sleep’ Review: A Suspicious Suicide Drives This Suffocating Thriller

‘State Like Sleep’ Review: A Suspicious Suicide Drives This Suffocating Thriller

Far from a fantasy, but not quite a nightmare, “State Like Sleep” is a thriller without thrills, where every setting that was once familiar has become loaded with a sense of dread. It pauses before turning any corner, anticipating horrors that never satisfyingly arrive.

The movie follows Katherine (Katherine Waterston), the wife of Stefan Delvoe (Michiel Huisman), a rising Belgian film star who died in an apparent suicide. Their marriage was a rocky one, shaken by revelations about Stefan’s drug use and the possibility that he was unfaithful. It was Katherine who found Stefan’s body with a bullet lodged in his temple.

One year after Stefan’s death, Katherine returns to their home in Brussels. Her mother (Mary Kay Place) has suffered a minor stroke and is in need of medical care. In between her visits to the hospital, Katherine unpacks the mess Stefan left behind. She finds matchboxes with the name of his favorite club written on them — the first bread crumb in a trail that leads Katherine to suspect her husband’s death was a conspiracy.

Katherine retraces Stefan’s final days and finds herself submerged in a world of nightclubs and narcotics. In this shadowy landscape, Katherine’s numbed grief is indistinguishable from a high.

The writer-director, Meredith Danluck, relies heavily on flashback sequences to illustrate Katherine’s dawning realizations.. Though Katherine moves through exclusive and expensive environments in both the past and present, she scrutinizes her surroundings without indulging in them. Danluck’s film follows her example.

Like her protagonist, Danluck seems less interested in languishing in the ambience of her mysterious settings than she is in tying together the loose strands of a plot. The result is a film that is narratively logical and cinematically inert, a funereal march to Katherine’s inevitable conclusions. Each time there is a memorable image — burlesque dancers posing in a grim line, a shock of bleached hair alerting Katherine to the presence of a threat from across the room — Danluck cuts away as soon as the shot has satisfied Katherine’s search for meaning. The images serve the dialogue, but they are not given a chance to expand the story, depriving the movie of texture and energy. Danluck dives with Katherine into the depths of grief-stricken obsession, and her film suffocates for want of room to breathe.

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