Every moment of Michal Marczak’s All These Sleepless Nights (great title, by the by) is a symbolic riddle left to the audience to piece together for themselves.
In that regard, it’s, dare I say, Malickian. Constantly engaging in such non-narrative, abstract puzzle-solving can irk some, but doing so definitely floats my cinematic boat.
Thematically, the flick primarily concerns the brightest “fireworks” – the first visuals seen in the movie – that stand out in our memories of adolescent life: relationships and partying. The combination of striking images and music on display here capture the repetitively-fluid transience of youthful recollections, particularly regarding these two aspects of growing up.
Since revelers – and in this case, the audience – often lose themselves at parties in a haze of shots and sounds, All These Sleepless Nights correctly (at least based on my experience) posits that the most memorable times consist of stumbling home with friends post-revels in the cruel light of morning, (lightly) contemplating existence.
The flick shares American Honey’s keen conception regarding the deterministic role that modern music persistently plays in the lives of today’s youth (which is just the latest manifestation of classic-Hollywood musical tropes). Though it accurately captures the existentially-cinematic elements of the contemporary house-music party scene, this is by no means the sole focus, thus still leaving room for many more movie to explore modern raving (Eden concerned the past).
Like a psychedelic experience, All These Sleepless Nights may not be wholly enjoyable for some, but it’s never less than intriguing. And what’s a more fitting artistic medium for the psychedelic experience than the cinema and its capacity for sensory overload?
Since this feels like an achingly personal movie, I want to end on a personal note: if Superbad best represents my high school years on the screen, All These Sleepless Nights nails the first half of my 20s.
P.S. One final point: despite what Sundance jurors decided, this is by NOOOOOO means a documentary.