Sleeping Dogs (18) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

Bobcat Goldthwait's twisted romantic comedy asks a serious question - how important is absolute honesty in a relationship? - and proceeds to answer it with a winning mixture of nerve and charm. At first, it comes on like a low-budget version of Meet the Parents, as Amy (Melinda Page Hamilton) brings home her fiancé John (Bryce Johnson) to meet mom and dad, strait-laced folks who don't like smoking or swearing. The film is already shifting in tone when it's revealed that Amy's layabout brother is a drug addict, but it takes a step off the cliff when Amy, pestered for her secrets by John, finally confesses to a bizarre sexual indiscretion during her youth. The moral of that proverbial title is wittily pointed once the consequences of truth-telling are shown to be calamitous, not just for romantic longevity but for familial togetherness, and Page Hamilton's performance catches a sweetness and pathos that make it something wistful rather than baleful. At last: an American movie that dares to see a virtue in repression.