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The Good Night Movie Review
By Ariana Mason - October 02, 2007

The Good Night, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Martin Freeman, Danny DeVito, & Penelope Cruz
The Good Night, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Martin Freeman, Danny DeVito, & Penelope Cruz
 
Penelope Cruz & Martin Freeman in The Good Night
Penelope Cruz & Martin Freeman in The Good Night
 
Martin Freeman & Danny DeVito in The Good Night
Martin Freeman & Danny DeVito in The Good Night
 
Gwyneth Paltrow & Martin Freeman in The Good Night
Gwyneth Paltrow & Martin Freeman in The Good Night
 
Penelope Cruz & Martin Freeman in The Good Night
Penelope Cruz & Martin Freeman in The Good Night
Sweet, vibrant dreams often entice me to pull my blankets back over my head and to ignore my blaring alarm clock and the grueling demands of the day. The Good Night, written and directed by Gwyneth Paltrow’s brother, Jake Paltrow, explores the consequences of allowing your dream world to take over your life. Gary (Martin Freeman) finds no satisfaction from life. Once an acclaimed musician, he must resort to composing mediocre commercial jingles to pay the rent. His relationship with his girlfriend, Dora (Gwyneth Paltrow), consists of sulking, arguing, and mumbling a nightly “I love you” that is forced and insincere.

Sleep is Gary’s special elixir to remove from his mind the harshness of failure and the sadness of a fizzling relationship. He melts with ecstasy during his imaginary visits with Anna (Penelope Cruz), a stunning figure dressed all in white, prancing in gold heels and a fur coat along the tranquil ocean. She satiates him with her beauty, passion, and most importantly, her belief in his talent. Her sexuality, style, and chemistry with Gary provide sharp contrast to Dora’s lackluster personality and unpolished appearance. Gary’s best friend Paul (Simon Pegg) receives a promotion at work, causing the jealous Gary to spiral deeper into depression.

The Good Night offers some quirky relief as the film progresses with Gary seeking the help of eccentric Mel (Danny DeVito), who takes Gary under his wing, sharing secrets about how to control and prolong his existence in the dream world. Mel and his sleep-enhancing techniques (studying both hands before bed and flipping a light switch on and off) provide comic relief in a movie whose characters feel lifeless in their lives. Mel serves as Gary’s true emotional soul mate; both characters are overwhelmed by the hefty demands of fast-paced New York City life and seek refuge in sleep.

I found it strange that the harder Gary tries to remain asleep, the more his dreams turn against him. His nights soon become filled with what Mel calls “dream monsters,” symbolized by chic Italian romantics who reveal Gary’s anxiety about losing Dora. Dora becomes increasingly depressed by her boyfriend and tells him, “You’re such a dead person. How did you get this way?”

The film successfully portrays Gary’s shift from sane to obsessive. When awakened from a dream where Penelope whispers, “Will you make love to me,” Gary cocoons himself into his bedroom; he takes sleeping pills and fanatically pads the bedroom windows and walls to stop the sun and the nightly noise from interrupting his delicious sleep. During a rare moment of passion while he’s awake, Gary excitedly explains his actions to Dora. With all outside forces eradicated, his arrival time to work becomes increasingly later, and soon he spends all day sleeping.

Reality and dream soon mingle in The Good Night. Gary sees a picture of Anna on buses and in magazines. His well-connected friend Paul discovers her name is Melody and subsequently hires her for a photo shoot. Gary meets her, only to find disappointment in her tough personality, her black leather jacket style, and her over-the-top tequila drinking. He criticizes her appearance and tries to mold her into his dream girl, Anna, urging her to wear her hair back and to dress all in white. How painful it is to find that a dream cannot translate into what you expected. I was in shock by Gary’s treatment of Melody; the moment where he offends her in his critique of her appearance further proves his mental instability. Nothing and no one can make him happy.

In a touching dream scene where Gary plays a piano piece he composed, Anna looks at him with tears of pride. “I always knew you were talented, but I love seeing it,” she purrs, and her voice fuses with Dora’s. This instant inspires Gary, shakes his from his reverie, and helps him want to re-enter his real world.

The Good Night beautifully contrasts the worlds within Gary’s mind. The filmmakers used 35mm film during his dreams and 16mm in the real world, giving the dreams a sensual texture. However, I still found myself confused at times about what was real and what was imagined. Perhaps the confusion was intended to better understand Gary’s plight. He fails to distinguish between the false reality of his sleep and the true reality of daylight. When the two worlds collide, Anna attains a personality and an identity that Gary rejects. The dreamed Anna is an exquisite sexual object created solely to look at, to adore, and to encourage Gary, but the moment she becomes a real person Gary does not accept her.

Gary’s friend Paul destroys his real world for a fantasy world; he happily divorces his loving wife and seeks attention from gold digger girlfriends. Despite the objectification of Gary’s dream girl and Paul’s women of pleasure, the film successfully teaches them their lessons. Gary says to his best friend, “I thought this was everything you wanted.” Paul laments the loss of his wife’s love, and Gary finally begins to value Dora, despite her imperfections.

Anna gives Gary the love he needs to believe in himself. When he finally realizes that Dora can provide that same spark, he understands that he no longer needs to block the rays of reality from his bedroom. This moment of epiphany leads to creative and romantic inspiration, yet also brings an unanticipated and uncertain conclusion that led the man sitting in the theatre next to me to break his glasses from the force of covering his flabbergasted face with his hands.

Let’s all hope that on the mornings when we don’t want to wake and face the day, we will have a fan club of supporters who believe in us. Gary realized, too late, that he had this support all along.

The Good Night
Rated R. Runtime 90 min. Theatrical release 10/5/2007.

PR.com Rating: A-

The Good Night – Movie Review


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