Sleep Furiously (U)

Film image
Gideon Koppel
John Jones

The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner28/05/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 94 mins

Watchable, impressively shot documentary that works well as a snapshot of an under-threat community, but maintains a distance throughout that is ultimately frustrating.

What's it all about?
Directed by Gideon Koppel, Sleep Furiously is a documentary about Trefeurig, a small, rural hill-farming community in mid Wales. The film is largely observational, presenting scenes of everyday life such as the rounds of the mobile librarian (John Jones), local sheep dog trials, choir practices and lessons at the local school.

These scenes of daily life are intercut with lengthy landscape shots, while there's also occasional music by Aphex Twin. In addition, the film observes a meeting of local residents, who are angry that the county council have voted to close the local school, a decision that could have dire consequences for the future of the community.

The Good
Koppel succeeds admirably in creating a snapshot of the community, a place that is obviously close to his heart – indeed, he grew up there when his German Jewish refugee parents settled in Wales after the war. Koppel's mother is one of the only characters we spend any real time with, though even his own mother isn't permitted a to-camera interview.

The most enjoyable scenes of the film (aside from an amusing sheep dog trial sequence) revolve around John Jones and his mobile library, to the point where you start wishing the whole film could have been about him instead. It's a delight to see Jones taking obvious pleasure in his job and his conversations with the various villagers on his route are among the film's highlights.

The Bad
The main problem is that Koppel is only interested in presenting an artistic portrait of the community, so we never get to know any of the various personalities in the film and this keeps us from becoming emotionally involved. This is ultimately frustrating, especially as you sense that these people have plenty of stories to tell.

Worth seeing?
Sleep Furiously is a watchable, beautifully shot documentary but its decision to remain at a distance prevents you from becoming emotionally involved in the film.

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Content updated: 21/07/2018 00:52

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