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Caleb Landry Jones regarde le monde brûler.

“Sleep”: Prologue to a Massacre in Australia

One week before the start of the Cannes Film Festival, one of the highlights of the last edition’s prize list was finally released in theaters by Australian filmmaker Justin Kurzel: “Sleep”. The fiction film Caleb Laundry Jones was honored with a commentary award at the Croset last year.

The news that only appears at the end of the story in this shocking film (which is a plea against the proliferation of weapons in Australia) refers to his film journey into the Columbine massacre, as did the filmmaker, Gus van Sand in “The Elephant”. Martin Bryant shot and killed thirty-five people in 1996 in Port Arthur, Tasmania. How did the killer get here? What political and social disorders is this a sign of? To answer these questions, Justin Kurzel, if one dares to say, rewinds the film and retrieves some episodes of his antihero’s immense life.


In the mid-1990s, Bryant, nicknamed Nitram, lived with his parents in his thirties and with severe psychological disorders, still unstable and inactive. The character occupies his days doing odd jobs in his neighborhood, and soon encounters a meeting with a strangely rich heiress who turns his life upside down.

Between these two lonely margins, a complicated relationship is born, and sleep seems to exclude him from his neurological disease. After parting ways with Helen in a tragic situation, he is haunted by unbalanced, dangerous inner demons and plunged into increasingly uncontrollable misery, leading to the tragic results we know …

In his previous films (“The Crimes of Snowdown”, “Assassin’s Creed”), Justin Kurzel did not distinguish himself by his fine art. In essence, as in form, he always used and abused integrity and contentment. Damn, he does the same in this “sleep” that takes into account the madness of an (almost) ordinary man who has become a monster.

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Caleb Laundry Jones’ performance in the lead role is like a movie: impressive, of course, but above all luxurious and demonstrative. The Cannes Arbitration Board, last year, was apt to praise this “performance”. The viewer is not obliged to follow it.


Australian film

By Justin Kurzel

With Caleb Laundry Jones, Judy Davis, and Anthony Labaclia.

1:50 am