This unwatchably moody and mannered film is ostensibly about fatal familial insomnia, an incredibly rare and, yes, fatal disease, but I would never have known that if the press notes hadn't told me so. Writer-director Anthony Stagliano seems to have simply needed an excuse for an extended meditation on sleep and the male psyche. Arthur (David Connolly), the afflicted protagonist, narrates in stilted tones as we watch him masturbate, writhe around in the bath, and crawl like a caged monkey across his kitchen countertop. Eventually he cuts off his hand in a bid, we are meant to understand, for the callous doctors at his local hospital to put him under a general anaesthetic. Maybe I'm being overly literal here, but even if Arthur had no idea that he might be at risk for FFI—unlikely, given that it's hereditary—wouldn't he have at least popped a few Ambiens or seen a sleep specialist before using a bandsaw to divorce himself of a very important body part? There's not enough underlying sense here to earn the movie the right to riff. Fade clocks in at 74 minutes—short for a feature film, but painfully long for the art-school video project it more closely resembles.
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