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Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal
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by Jay Seaver

"More than just a-muse-ing."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2012 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: We've all heard (or used) some variation on "my art comes from a dark place" before; there's also its close relative "suffering for one's art". Not exactly the inspiration you'd expect for a movie named "Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal" - which, not surprisingly once you accept that premise, turns out to be more about other people suffering for ones art. By proxy.

At one time a brilliant painter, Lars Olafsson (Thure Lindhardt) hasn't produced new work in years, and is now starting a teaching job at an art school in rural Canada. A recent bequest to the school requires it to see to the well-being of the benefactor's nephew, Eddie (Dylan Smith), a tall, simple mute of a man, and since he and Lars hit it off, Eddie winds up staying at Lars's place. It turns out that Eddie had a sleepwalking issue as a child, which involved attacking and eating small animals without knowing it, and it returns his first night in a new house. Except now he's bigger, the issue escalates... and when he sees the result, Lars is suddenly painting again.

The way Eddie approaches the artistic process is interesting. Many movies have played with the idea of artists claiming that a lasting great work is worth sacrifice, but the merit of the art in the larger world is seldom the issue here; it's all what Lars will do or allow, directly or indirectly, to be the one who creates it. Writer/director Boris Rodriguez never actually shows completed artwork, but does a great job of showing how an empty canvas can draw or taunt an artist so that the audience gets a feel for the forces acting on Lars, and how it can cause him to respond in terrible ways.

Really, Lars is a heck of a role, and Thure Lindhardt is pretty much perfect in it. He seems to shrink and expand along with Lars's connection to his art, and even after Lars has enabled monstrous things, there's a humility to him that keeps the character quite appealing - it's that quality being stripped away that makes Lars seem his worst. He's also got a natural, unforced chemistry with Dylan Smith as the title character. Eddie is interesting on his own, as well - Smith is expressive without words or much exaggeration in his facial expressions, and he embraces the man's childlike nature without seeming to play an overgrown kid. Then, of course, he changes his whole performance when Eddie sleepwalks, in a fog but also far more sharp and decisive.

For as much as things feel real, they play into a plot that is more than a bit absurd, and Rodriguez shows a wonderfully twisted since of humor about it. The mayhem is gross but also played larger-than-life, and the radio is a great running joke. The complex main characters are countered by simple, funny supporting ones, particularly Stephen McHattie as Lars's agent, Alain Goulem as the ever-optimistic school administrator, and Paul Braunstein as the local constable. Georgina Reilly splits the difference as Lars's love interest, mixing personality and easy charm with enough substance to play off Lindhardt very well indeed.

Rodriguez does a really fine job mixing the movie's two tones, building Eddie so that it just needs the right nudge to go from funny to serious and back again, getting every point he's looking to make across from the first scene. The operatic soundtrack is well-chosen, and he makes good use of the wintry, barren environment without overdoing it as symbolism.

There's a lot of ways that this movie could have been overdone, but most if not all are avoided, and avoided without feeling like the film has been neutered in any way. "Eddie" has an out-there premise and some odd humor, but it's also quite smart and savvy when at its best.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=23610&reviewer=371
originally posted: 08/05/12 08:53:33
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the Fantasia International Film Festival 2012 series, click here.

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  DVD: 06-Aug-2013



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