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Two Gates of Sleep -- Film Review

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CANNES -- At 78 minutes, "Two Gates of Sleep" may be the longest film at this festival. With literary pinions -- "Heart of Darkness," "As I Lay Dying" -- it's a metaphysical trek through swampy Mississippi that is, nevertheless, a filmic wash-out.

In this Directors' Fortnight entry, the overgrown backwoods are the fertile terrain for writer-director Alistair Banks Griffin's stark narrative. While the overall theme is potentially rich, filmmaker Griffin merely bores us. Propelled frequently in real-time tedium, "Two Gates of Sleep" is likely to inspire nodding and drowsing with an audience.

Visualized with slow-moving pans and laborious zooms, "Two Gates" is largely bereft of dialogue. That's altogether fitting since neither of the two main characters (Brady Corbet, David Call) are the talky type. They glance, grunt and drag on their cigarettes, which conjures up the emotions they are feeling about their mother's impending death but does not inspire either interest or sympathy from an audience.

Indeed, the film's essence is in its visualizations: Using the creepy Mississippi backwoods as a metaphor for our world, the camera forages on nature's most rancid natural components. The film wins the Bunuel Award for most insect imagery symbolizing man's insignificance and ongoing decay. Heaving in even more Bunuel grossness, Griffin shows the gutting of a deer, bespeaking the vile innards of life.

Further enervating the narrative, but consistent with the film's aesthetic, the dour strings and drained sounds of Saunder Jurriaans' and Daniel Bensi's score deadens our spirits.

In essence, the film posits that nature is one great compost and mankind is just mud and decay. As such, it might have potential with a Sundance audience.

Venue: Festival de Cannes -- Directors' Fortnight
Sales: Recreation Media -- Ariel Veneziano
Production: Borderline Films
Cast: Brady Corbet, David Call, Karen Young
Screenwriter-director: Alistair Banks Griffin
Producers: Josh Mond, Andrew Renzi
Executive producers: Sean Durkin, Antonio Campos
Director of photography: Jody Lee Lipes
Production designer: Kris Moran
Music: Saunder Jurrians, Daniel Bensi
No rating, 78 minutes.