sleep furiously

sleep furiously


Reviewed by: George Williamson

Trefeurig is a small valley village in the heart of rural Wales. Sheep line the hills, friesians fill the barns and tractors clog the roads. Elements of the simple farming life have remained the same for generations, but with the approaching closure of the village school there are fears that the community is going to crumble.

sleep furiously is rather different to the usual documentaries made to show a community's story. There are no interviews and no attempts to tell a coherent narrative; it's almost entirely constructed of candid incidental footage. This delivers a genuine - if blinkered - picture of valley life, unfortunately it's not all that interesting. Scenes include a village meeting, someone baking a cake, a mobile library, the recitation of an ode to a signpost, a cheque donation, choir practice and a bout of best garden judging. It's a slice of life, but an agonizingly tedious one; it's almost impossible to care about the geriatric inhabitants and their stultifying existence.

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In addition to this, the movie is shot is a self-consciously edgy way; scenes are often cropped strangely or filmed using very limited field of view. If this was at all relevant - or indeed beneficial - to the film's content or themes this could be understandable, but it actually emphasizes the mundanity of the rest of the proceedings. This odd cinematography works better in the artistic interludes which are accompanied by old Aphex Twin tunes - for those interested most of them are the prepared piano tracks from his 2001 Drukqs album). These provide the most interesting parts of the film - there's a lovely shot of sheep tracing valley pathways in the distance and some rather nice time-lapse sequences. Unfortunately these usually go on for long enough that attention wanes, and once or twice they become pretentiously abstract.

sleep furiously is a strange little film. At times it appears to be an unfocused and mundane documentary, at other points it seems more like an intriguing art installation that's in dire need of slash and burn editing. If you've a personal interest in the lingering death of culturally stagnant Welsh valley communities then this may be interesting, otherwise it's best avoided.

Reviewed on: 22 Jun 2008
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Rural Wales faces change from all sides as the population ages.

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Angus Wolfe Murray **

Director: Gideon Koppel

Year: 2007

Runtime: 94 minutes

Country: UK

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