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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Anchor Bay - 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 101 Minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: MPEG-4 (AVC)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English Uncompressed 5.1 PCM, English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Starring: Charlize Theron, AnnaSophia Robb, Nick Stahl, Dennis Hopper, Woody Harrelson
Directed by: William Maher
Music by: Christopher Young
Written by: Zac Stanford
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 8, 2008

"Today is the first day of the rest of your life"

Film Synopsis:

Nick Stahl (Sin City), AnnaSophia Robb (Bridge to Terabithia) and Academy Award winner Charlize Theron (Monster) star in Sleepwalking, a moving drama about the deep familial bond the develops between James (Stahl) and his young niece, Tara (Robb) after the girl's mother suddenly leaves town. As old wounds from James' own turbulent childhood begin to reopen, he is forced to re-examine his life and, for the first time, discover his true purpose. Directed by William Maher from a screenplay by Zak Stanford (The Chumscrubber), Sleepwalking also stars Academy Award Nominees Dennis Hopper (Hoosiers) and Woody Harrelson (The People Vs. Larry Flynt).

My Take:

Sleepwalking is a poignant film about family, hope, abuse and the effects of the choices we make along the way. Charlize Theron portrays Joleen who is a troubled woman who suffered abuse at the hands of her tyrannical father. She is the type who is looking for male acceptance from anyone who will bestow it on her which has led to her involvement in relationships that have been less than rewarding. The result of one such relationship led to her becoming pregnant and the outcome is her 12 year old daughter Tara (Robb). Joleen feels dissatisfied with her life and guilt for the life that she has provided for her young daughter. Her brother James (Stahl) who lives close by is a quiet down on his luck sort who lives alone and barely keeps his job. When Joleen and Tara are forced out of their current living arrangement because her boyfriend is arrested for growing marijuana they move in with James. Joleen decides to leave for a while (without personally telling either James or Tara) and leaves Tara with James who is barely able to care for himself let alone a frustrated adolescent. The two develop a bond of sorts but things get complicated when Tara is sent to Foster Care by Social Services. The two decide to take off a few weeks later after James visits Tara and they head to his father's farm. Things quickly unravel as James' father (Hopper) has not changed over the years. He is still a mean, vindictive and abusive man. The end result is more suffering for young Tara and a reckoning for James.

This is definitely not a feel good movie. It does paint a picture of life for many who go through such experiences and how they can affect those people as they become adults. I thought that the cast all played well to their strengths as actors and were equally excellent. I thought the pacing was a bit slow and I didn't care for the ending.

Parental Guide:

The rating is appropriate as the film contains strong language and a scene physical child abuse.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 66

  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:

Video: 70

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

Sleepwalking comes to Blu-ray Disc from Anchor Bay/Starz featuring 1080p AVC encoded video with an average bitrate of 26 mbps and lossless uncompressed 5.1 channel PCM audio with an constant bitrate of 6.9 mbps.

The video presentation on Sleepwalking was disappointing. The video lacked sharpness and definition which made images appear dull and flat. Resolution was not the problem as it was evident that this was high definition video. I was able to discern detail however it lacked the fine texture and clearly defined lines that are obvious on the better HD video presentations. Colors were muted and came across as though the display's color controls had been turned down to the point where they appeared lifeless and flat. Flesh tones had a similar appearance in that they lacked tonal variety and delineation. Contrast and black levels were good but not among the best that I have seen. Grain was visible but preserved well and I saw no signs of bit starvation or compression related video noise.

The audio presentation did a fine job with the handling of dialogue as it was crystal clear and tonally divergent throughout. The music score was reproduced via use of the front three channels with the surrounds included for ambient effect. It sounded fine for the source material but I couldn't help but feel that it had a succinct nature to it. There was no deep bass associated with the mix but I did notice an occasional rumble from my subwoofer. This track conveyed the film's elements with little fanfare which was certainly acceptable based upon the nature of the film.

Bonus Features:

The only bonus supplements offered are a 16 minute making of documentary and theatrical trailer. The documentary included interviews with the filmmakers and cast as well as some behind the scenes footage.

  • A mother's shame, a family's pain: The making of Sleepwalking

  • Theatrical Trailer

Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed the acting performances in Sleepwalking but found the film to be depressing and a little slow. Its technical presentation on Blu-ray disc is not among the best that I have seen which makes it hard to recommend as a blind purchase. I would recommend renting it first.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

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Panasonic DMP-BD30 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

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Marantz DV7001 Universal Disc Player

Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor

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Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers

SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)

APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector

Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling

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