The 70-minute film that is part of IFFK 2018 features a couple that decides on a strange experiment to abandon sleep for 4 days.

Sleeplessly Yours review An intense unconventional love story
Flix Cinema Sunday, December 09, 2018 - 12:26

If you had to narrate the story of Sleeplessly Yours in one sentence, you might say that it’s a story of a bizarre experiment gone wrong. However, the experiment is only incidental to the exploration of the psyche that the filmmakers attempt. Here’s a look at the feature film that is part of IFFK 2018.

A long shot of a woman lying in a foetal position at a beach, as the water washes over her body. A man mumbles her name. She dances, her body moves fluidly with the wind. Blurred, shadowy images. She stares at the soft blue late evening skies.

Jessy has just woken up from deep sleep. His partner Maanu is still an indistinct image. He is there to interview the promising young Yoga practitioner. She is struggling to perform a sheershasana and calls out for his help. The rhythm and, at times, the imbalance in their romance is evident.

Sleeplessly Yours, a 70-minute feature film directed by Goutham Soorya and Sudeep Elamon, picks an unusual backdrop to a young romance. The couple on screen decide on a strange experiment to abandon sleep for 4 days and the film trails back and forth between their present and past.

Jessy and Maanu are a post-modern couple, who are living together. Since the plot revolves around a social experiment that an ordinary couple probably wouldn’t undertake (or even if they did would give up midway out of sheer exhaustion), it seems logical to sketch out one of them as unconventional.

Maanu is this mysteriously aloof girl with a mind of her own. Typically, people around her are judgmental about her choices and what she stands for. “She doesn’t give you stability. You can’t contain her,” warns Jessy’s friend. Maanu is a loner, an orphan who does not allow anyone to penetrate her past. Not even Jessy. She is a subversion of the conventional girlfriend. There is a shift in the traditional gender roles. He wants stability while she is averse to marriage. He talks about focus, while she has flighty dreams. He is the more malleable of the two – the dependable chap who seems to have no vices, is emotionally attached to this woman, and is unafraid to admit it to her. She seems detached, even annoyed when people ask about marriage or in the fact that they expect them to get married.

What really holds our attention is the passionate love between the two. It’s clear that despite everything, they share a deep, emotional and intimate bond that’s tender and unshakable.

The passages where they both dive into this weird experiment are interestingly shot. The scenes slide back and forth, and with clarity. There are close-ups that frame the actor’s angst with a rawness. In one instance, Maanu, bone-tired, sleepy and hollow-eyed, slowly pieces together memoirs of a painful past, and the actor (Devaki Rajendran) is superlative in this part of her performance.

The couplet dealing with the prelude and aftermath of the situation is well-written. I like that scene where she Googles the aftereffects of such an experiment and by doing so also provides us with a lot of intimate little details about them. The meltdown is organic – the sleeplessness taking us into unknown alleys of the characters’ mental landscape, as they throw their deepest fears and insecurities at each other. It’s a cathartic process for them as well as for the viewer. 

Sudev Nair is extremely good as Jessy and complements his co-star beautifully despite his heavily-accented Malayalam. The vulnerability in his body language and his eyes speaks volumes. Most evident in a tender scene where he breaks down, recalling caressing the stretch marks on Maanu’s body to his friend.

The image of deprived sleep is emphatically shown. It affects their body, mind and soul, and results in dark undereye circles, weary bodies, chaotic conversations and anger. When Jessy keeps imploring her to quit the experiment, Maanu is unyielding. Even in her exhausted, angry, mindless state, she is herself.  Despite how volatile and temperamental she is, we feel a compassion towards her. And her background is interestingly woven into the narrative. The honesty of the characters makes us root for them.

Sleeplessly Yours is intense, disturbing and leaves you with a heavy heart. Yet it’s a love story in the classic sense.

This article was originally published on The News Minute has syndicated the content. You can read the original article here.

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