Irish Film Institute -I CAN’T SLEEP



110 minutes| France-Switzerland| 1994| Subtitled| Colour| Dolby Stereo| 35mm

A real-life news story inspired Denis’ third feature, whose title (translated as I Can’t Sleep) indicates its signature mood of unease. In late 1980s Paris, Thierry Paulin, aka ‘The Granny Killer’, murdered 18 old ladies. It’s against this backdrop that Denis collates the experiences of a series of characters who are on the margins of society, including a young Lithuanian woman hoping to forge an acting career, a musician set to return to his native Martinique after a failed marriage (Denis favourites Alex Descas and Beatrice Dalle are the warring couple), and a black transvestite frequenting the city’s gay clubs.

Unfolding amid a decidedly non-touristy milieu, the matter-of-fact manner in which Denis connects these individuals with the killings offers a disturbing view of the horrific and the mundane existing side by side. A discordant, unsettling film, which now plays like a fascinating precursor of the social dislocation observed in Michael Haneke’s Code Unknown.

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