No One Sleeps
I have to admit that I didnít entirely get this movie. The premise was intriguing: AIDS the result of deliberate germ warfare to develop a sexual weapon. Stephen is a young German researcher come to San Francisco to prove this theory, which was his fatherís obsession. So well and good. Perhaps the version I had of this movie had been badly cut, but there were scenes that seemed to make no sense, conversations of great import that I didnít understand. Very odd. For example, in one scene, Stephen is talking to a man in a club. They are still talking but for some reason everyone else has disappeared and they are locked in. Huh? I think there must have been scene or two taken out.
On top of this, the movie was one of huge acting contrasts. Stephen is superb, and very attractive if youíre into that slightly east-European bruised hustler look, but the other lead, a female detective, is so bad she couldnít even sit down without looking as if she were reading from a script. Her way to convey emotion was to shout. I kid you not: acting by shouting. Itís almost worth watching for this appalling performance alone.
Stephenís research depends on finding victims of the experiments. One by one they seem to be getting killed.
Itís incredibly 80s, right on the height of the AIDS crisis: some men paranoid, some dying, some still partying hard. Stephen is hardly a good boy himself, into leather and dangerous sex.
And thatís about all I got out of this. I really donít know what happened let alone why it happened.† †
East German PhD student Stephan goes to San Francisco to prove the AIDS virus was introduced deliberately into the general population as a result of germ warfare experimentation in the 70s.† Stephanís father, a medical researcher, had a list of names identifying scientists and subjects.† Stephan thinks he can track them down to find evidence to support his claims and vindicate his dead father.† But someone is murdering the survivors, and Stephan is drawn into a dangerous race with a psychotic serial killer.†
Can he find the proof he needs before the murderer gets to him?† Can he convince the police investigating the deaths that heís not a suspect?† This one has all the necessary ingredients for a tense psychological thriller.† Sadly, it doesnít work as well as it should.†
Thereís a muddled storyline that confused me on some important points.† I found it hard to keep track of what was going on.† Thereís no stated timeframe but itís obviously set before German reunification, which gives a frame of reference, so Iíd say mid to late 80s.
Itís obviously very low budget.† San Francisco has never looked so sleazy and down at heel, which is actually a good thing in terms of mood & atmosphere, but itís depressing.†
The film tries too hard to be clever, bringing in parallels to the opera Turandot that are overdone and clumsy.
Worst of all are dud performances from many cast members, particularly a female police officer with a really irritating voice and manner, whose delivery of dialogue just sucks.† Stephan is actually very good, convincing, edgy and attractive in that slightly scrawny European way, with hypnotic ice blue eyes.† But thereís NO chemistry between him and the supposed love interest, a chunky leatherman with tattoos like the guy in American History X. Okay maybe Iím shallow in that I didnít find him attractive, which set me against the character. I couldnít believe in the relationship and didnít find their love scenes at all sexy.
Itís easy to guess the killerís identity, as thereís no real alternative.† Yet, the film is quite gripping.† With a bigger budget, proper actors and some editing, it couldíve been a really good thriller.† It tries to do too much and ultimately sinks under the weight of that over-ambition.† It takes an intriguing concept and squanders it by concentrating on a predictable murder plot with a dodgy romance, rather than the exciting conspiracy theory of AIDS as part of germ warfare.
There are some graphic scenes with violence, some nudity but no explicit sex that I remember.† Itís pretty bleak and horrible, though has a surprisingly positive ending. Worth a look but donít expect too much.† Certainly not in the same league as Hard.