Chasing Sleep

on September 16, 2001 by Kevin Courrier
   This promising first feature from writer-director Michael Walker combines some of the nightmarish aura of David Lynch's "Eraserhead" with the creeping paranoia of Francis Coppola's "The Conversation." "Chasing Sleep" is a smoothly crafted psychological thriller about a man who can no longer tell his waking life from his dormant one.

   Ed Saxon (Jeff Daniels) is an English professor whose wife doesn't come home one evening. After he spends the first night worrying, Ed gets detectives involved in trying to find her. Meanwhile, the pipes in his house are dripping and odd objects start turning up, and as Ed takes more pills to make him sleep, the world becomes a stranger place. But through his delusions, Ed tries to unravel clues that might lead to the fate of his wife.

   Jeff Daniels has always had a knack for getting deep inside the hidden lives of shallow men. And Daniels is superb at unraveling the wormy anxieties and desperation at the heart of Ed's existence. "Chasing Sleep" is the stuff of lingering dreams.    Starring Jeff Daniels, Emily Bergl, Gil Bellows and Zach Grenier. Directed and written by Michael Walker. Produced by Oliver Glaas and Thomas Bidegain. No distributor set. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 99 min.

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