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Film Review: Mike Birbiglia Steps Up in ‘Sleepwalk with Me’

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CHICAGO – It’s exciting to witness a breakthrough with a new film artist. The comedian Mike Birbiglia has adapted his one-man show, “Sleepwalk with Me,” into a movie, and the result is a naturalistic performance piece that plays both like a documentary and Woody Allen’s during the “Annie Hall” period. Birbiglia gets a little help from some friends like Lauren Ambrose, Kirsten Schaal, Wyatt Cenac and Amy Schumer.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

This is a based-on-real-events story of Birbiglia’s actual bout with a dangerous sleepwalking condition, one that had him falling off furniture and doing potential damage to all of his relationships. He parallels this struggle with his quest to mate, relating to his girlfriend while trying to develop a stand up career. The film is gutsy, poignant, very funny and has a style that plays like Cinéma Vérité, the fancy film school term that means “truth.” Plus it has the bonus of cameos from the current crop of hot comedians, who are in essence co-workers of the sleepwalking man.

Mike Birbiglia portrays his fictional twin, Matt Pandamiglio. He is a bartender at a club that occasionally features comedy. Matt longs to try his hand on stage, but his act is stale and it worries his girlfriend, Abby (Lauren Ambrose). A chance encounter with an agent starts his career on the road, and it is here he starts to hone what will become his signature laconic act. But his relationship starts to disintegrate, and in desperation he becomes engaged.

His peculiar habit of sleepwalking becomes more prevalent when under stress, so his marriage plans and his nascent comedy career begin to take its toll. He wakes up after falling off the top of a dresser, he wakes up in the middle of a shower, he begins to endanger himself and others. Meanwhile, the relationship he wants to become forever might not even make it to next week. If only the tragedy of his life could translate to comedy, all might turn out okay.

“Sleepwalk with Me” has a limited release, including Chicago, on August 31st. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose, Wyatt Cenac, Ira Glass, Kristen Schaal, Amy Schumer and Alex Karpovsky. Written by Mike Birbiglia, Joe Birbiglia, Ira Glass and Seth Barrish. Directed by Mike Birbirglia and Seth Barrish. Not rated.

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Sleepwalk with Me”

Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose, Carol Kane, James Rebhorn
Matt and Abby (Lauren Ambrose) with Parents Linda (Carol Kane) and Frank (James Rebhorn) in ‘Sleepwalk with Me’”
Photo credit: IFC Films

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Sleepwalk with Me”

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