No Sleep Won't Kill You

No Sleep Won't Kill You


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

In my childhood I read a photostory in which cartoon creatures from a dream escaped into the real (photographic) world. I was haunted by that story for years. There's something in the mixture of animation and live action that gets to people, challenging what we are willing to accept as reality even within the distorted framework inevitably offered by cinema. Marko Meštrovïc draws on this in his powerful short film about dreams, using the same techniques yet shifting back and forth across that border with such subtlety that it often takes a moment to decide which category any given image ought to be placed in. No sleep won't kill you (or at least not for three or four years), but it will make it increasingly difficult for you to determine what's real.

The hero of this film has been haunted by particular figures in his dreams since childhood, or so he tells us. There's a minotaur in a boxing ring - we can't tell whether or not he's wearing a mask. A rhino-headed man, too, who may represent the narrator himself. And a woman who looks like a cross between a dominatrix and a circus performer, with an air of command about her as she holds aloft signs, messages for someone other than the dreamer. Is he supposed to pass them on? How can he find out who they are for?

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There's something reminiscent of Herzog about this, despite a much more frenetic visual style that is all Meštrovïc's own. Haunted, our hero sleeps less and less. Accordingly, the boundary between his sleeping and waking states grows weaker. Images of the dream figures begin to appear in grafitti and art. Is he seeing them now whilst awake, or are they using his fragility to slip out into the wider world?

This kind of story needs to be told with conviction in order to rise above accusations of surrealism for surrealism's sake. Fortunately, Meštrovïc seems to know exactly what he's doing, and the bold narration, accompanied by a fantastic jazz score, grip the viewer throughout. Just don't watch it when you're overtired.

Reviewed on: 02 Jun 2010
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Haunted by strange dream figures since childhood, an isolated man undertakes a dangerous experiment, sleeping less and less, with unexpected results.
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Read more No Sleep Won't Kill You reviews:

Andrew Robertson ****

Director: Marko Meštrovic

Year: 2010

Runtime: 9 minutes

Country: Croatia


EIFF 2010

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