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Miss Me Deadly

Sabrina Lantos/2018 Tribeca Film Festival

State Like Sleep (2019)

Writer-director Meredith Danluck attempts to put a feminine spin on the tired noir genre with “State Like Sleep,” with Katherine Waterston’s character, Katherine, obsessing over the mysterious death of her celebrity ex husband (Michael Huisman) and getting tangled in a dangerous web of secrets.

Katherine returns to Brussels to help vacate the flat they shared and discovers some clues leading her to the Belgian underworld – as embodied by a seedy signless club hidden behind a nondescript bodega. Noirs of this ilk that involve retracing the last steps of a dead lover generally seem to work because the protagonist’s all-consuming obsession completely takes over the narrative. But here, Ms. Danluck isn’t interested in the sort of genre gender parity demonstrated by Sigourney Weaver in “Aliens.” Rather, Ms. Danluck imagines how Katherine would approach the mystery as a stereotypical woman. Instead of having her noir hard boiled, we got it soft poached.

Katherine bonds with fellow American Edward (Michael Shannon), who here functions less like an homme fatale and more like a romantic rebound despite his patronage of the aforementioned seedy club. With the complication of Katherine’s mother (Mary Kay Place) suffering a stroke, middling melodrama soon snuffs out any suspense and intrigue left in the film.


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