Sleeping Dogs (2013) – By Philip Smolen

Eve (Liberty Mills) struggles to take care of her invalid fiancé Tommy (Simon Killick) since he was attacked and crippled by some fellow drug dealers. Now all he can do is lie in bed, soil himself and vomit uncontrollably. Eve does the best she can, but despite this, Tommy slowly begins to slip away. There is a new treatment that can help Tommy, but it is very expensive. So Eve visits all of Tommy’s old accomplices including the dark and mysterious Roy (Jon Campling) and the evil David (David L Rooney) and asks them for assistance. Roy initially wants nothing to do with Eve, but David is willing to help her in exchange for a few special favors. Eve refuses David’s advances, and works with Roy instead to try and get the money she needs. But as Eve delves deeper into Tommy’s world, she comes face to face with disturbing information about him. Will this new information change her mind about helping him?

“Sleeping Dogs” is a gritty thriller and a dark slice of modern urban London life. Filmed for around one hundred pounds (!) writer/director Floris Ramaekers revisits the same gloomy territory and themes that renowned British directors like Tony Richardson and Basil Dearden explored in the early 1960s. Everyone in this film has been forgotten, and these lost souls must fend for themselves while struggling mightily with life. Ramaekers focuses primarily on Eve and the extraordinary lengths that she goes through in order to help Tommy.

The film has a gripping and intense beginning as Eve sits forlornly in a Laundromat, and is accosted and then berated by a young man. It’s an uncomfortable scene and Ramaekers doesn’t let up from there. He keeps up the tension throughout the film, as he slowly reveals crumbs of information about Eve and Tommy’s situation.

Liberty Mills is a star-in-the-making, and she gives an incredible performance as Eve. She is the emotional core of this movie, and she commands your attention when she is onscreen.

The story is a little hard to follow at times and some aspects of the story don’t come off very well. For instance, why aren’t the police investigating this crime? What drug could have possibly put Tommy into such a degenerative, vegetative condition? What exactly are Roy and Eve trying to sell back to the evil David?

Despite these shortcomings and the bleakness of the subject matter, “Sleeping Dogs” remains a solid indie thriller, thanks to the direction of Ramaekers and the dazzling performance of Liberty Mills. I can easily see it becoming a festival favorite in the near future.

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