Movie review: 'Sleepwalk with Me' -- 3 Stars
Sleepwalk with Me
Directed by Mike Birbiglia, Seth Barrish
Starring Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose
Mike Birbiglia's "Sleepwalk with Me" is the big-screen treatment of the comedian's semi-autobiographical one-man show about his struggle with sleepwalking and the clarity it forced upon his professional and personal lives.
The movie retains the spirit of the one-man enterprise, even with other actors onscreen. With Birbiglia's character Matt Pandamiglio filling in the gaps through narration directly addressed to the camera, and countless scenes centered on his lonely struggle to stay upbeat while traveling the stand-up circuit, the film feels like an 80-minute diary brought to life.
Matt has a steady job as a Brooklyn bartender and a long-term girlfriend (Lauren Ambrose), but he's unhappy. An aspiring comedian, what he really wants more than anything is to make people laugh professionally. So when the opportunity arises to start taking on tiny gigs across the region, Matt seizes it and begins a grueling road stint made all the more difficult by his chronic sleepwalking.
Birbiglia, who also shared his story on "This American Life" (host Ira Glass is a co-writer of the movie), adeptly navigates the comic, self-mocking confessional terrain.
The film mirrors the evolution of Matt's stand-up act with the disintegration of his sanity, offering resonant insight into the all-consuming nature of performing and the toll the need to be on stage can take on the rest of your life.
In short, "Sleepwalk with Me" is a minor movie, but one that rings true from start to finish.