Early in this incredibly annoying film, insomniac Arthur muses in his tape-recorded diary that “if we are here to learn more about me and more about this disease, wouldn’t it be more prudent, more efficient to contain here a less-filtered me?” And that’s what Stagliano does, too, offering us an unfiltered set of film-school David Lynch-isms. The chronology goes beyond jumbled into a less-organized terrain; there are surreal dream sequences; an unidentified couple tangos through the opening credits; and Arthur spends an inordinate amount of time squirming around on the floor. Hell, we even get that old standby, the guy watching a television on which there’s nothing but static.
There’s some sort of a story here about Arthur’s deadly affliction, a case of “fatal familial insomnia” (a real but extremely rare condition), but Stagliano’s approach is so disorienting that you’re likely to get to the half-hour mark before you even realize that Arthur’s problem is sleeplessness and not something more conventional, like, say, schizophrenia. By the time Weiss shows up as a doctor who is simultaneously stupid and patronizing, you’ll be inclined to like him because at least his dialogue makes some sort of sense. Let’s just say it’s a long 74 minutes.