Sleep Furiously – film review

I’ve just come from seeing ‘Sleep Furously’, a film by Gideon Koppel filmed in Trefeurig not too far from Aber.  It premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival and features music by Aphex Twin, so hits on a couple of chords.

It is a very soft-spoken film, more intense in the last third introduced by the only words from the filmmaker, as opposed to the unscripted speech of the people being filmed living out their lives.  Ghostly words appear on the screen about only having the courage to speak out when things are ending, having the courage but not the words. This sentiment has already built up over the preceding sequences but permeates the final scenes.

Beautifully framed with the camera usually stationary below normal line of sight, you get a close-up view of textures of life in a small farming town with the heads and faces of the people often cut out of the frame. The effect is fragmentary and abstract, rich textures of a weather-beaten wall, hay in a barn while pigs and calves are being born. Lush colours and emptiness.  Slow unfolding of daily life, returning to the library’s book mobile that seems to knit the community together bringing a very odd selection of titles to break the isolation of the older denizens of Trefeurig. There are children, elderly, and middle-aged people, but almost no one is seen in their 20’s or 30’s. Lovely people talking about their animals, hands baking a Victorian sponge (for Americans, this is a cake).  A slow build up of intensity.

The sense of the passing of an old way of life has already been commented on, with the closing of the school etc (a very real local issue). The final scenes bring home a heavy sense of melancholy and loss with time-lapse photography of curtains in an empty window and other scenes of derelict or near-derelict cottages.

I was expecting the music by Aphex Twin to be more prominent than it was, in many cases they didn’t choose the more electronic pieces.  Quiet. 

I walked back in the rain in a contemplative mood indeed.