Freud wrote, “Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy”—not an insight that director Jake Paltrow took to heart in his rather tame first feature, The Good Night. Martin Freeman stars as Gary, an erstwhile Britpop star reduced to composing music for commercials; he shares a Manhattan apartment with his sour gallerist girlfriend, Dora (the director’s sister, Gwyneth). Gary is lost and can’t even find the motivation for a full-on midlife crisis. He lives to sleep, perchance to dream: of a full-lipped Spanish beauty (Cruz) who saunters through his nights looking chic in white fur coats, raven hair pulled back in a severe bun. This is a wet dream as art-directed for Vogue, and not quite the stuff of Gary’s deepest unconscious fantasies.
Our protagonist, desperate to hang on to his elusive senorita, turns to Mel Kitsarelli (DeVito), a schlump who teaches an adult-ed class on lucid dreaming. Under Mel’s tutelage, Gary’s dreams inevitably collide with reality, but The Good Night doesn’t quite know where to go with this potentially rich, unsettling material. Imagine what Buñuel might have perpetrated had he lived to point his camera at Cruz.
Cast and crew