I’ll Sleep When I Am Dead is a bleak, overcast, British film noir tale that leads the audience through the dark streets and underbelly of London’s criminal world on a quest for a reason that morphs into revenge. It is about the deception of memories – and the myths they create.
Davey is the younger brother of former crime lord, Will (excellent performance by Clive Owen of King Arthur and Greenfingers – one of my favorite films.) Will had left London three years before and has been drifting through jobs showing kindness when the occasion arose. He left behind his friends, his girl friend – a restaurant owner, and a younger brother, Davey … to get away from his life. Is he a changed man?
Will is looking for work when a memory of his brother makes him try to contact Davey. When there is no answer, Will drives back to London in the van he has been living out of. He discovers that Davey, into the soft money made by selling crack at parties, is dead by suicide.
Will cannot believe Davey would do such a thing and starts to investigate. What Will discovers is truly terrible and dark. While we like Will, we will not be happy with the way he settles the score, though on some level we understand it.
The one thing thoughtful viewers will take away with them (if they like this kind of film, with its fine acting) is that crime doesn’t pay, never pays. It violates the integrity of the person and his family and friends. It’s somewhat discouraging, too, because Will won’t go to the police because he truly believes he will not get justice; and though he tried to change, he chooses again the path of loss and revenge. Where is redemption?
The accents make much of the dialogue difficult to understand. This is not a movie for the faint of heart. It is a very dark story.
I would almost like to see a sequel because I think the character of Will has the capacity to accept love and redemption. I lived in London for two years; there is life and light in the city on the Thames.