To Sleep With Anger (Burnett, 1990)

To Sleep With Anger (Charles Burnett, 1990)

At its core, this is a beautifully poignant portrayal of a family working through a difficult period of their lives. Never before have I seen an examination of family relations that center around children in their 30s. Technically, this film centers around the 60-something parents, but their two boys and the way those men’s lives affect every generation around them is the driving force. It’s easy to mistake this as good brother vs. bad brother, but Burnett is extremely careful in presenting the way both let their flaws get the better of them. There’s no doubt that one has his stuff together more than the other, but both are easily recognizable as human beings. Oddly enough, what I found to be the weakest part of the film is its most famous character – a wild figure from the past wreaking havoc on the entire family. Too blatant (or maybe not blatant enough…) of a devil symbol, I think the family drama would have been just as accomplished without him.  8/10

to sleep with anger


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