The Good Night, 15

A nightcap in dire need of a pep-up
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The Independent Culture

Maybe it's unfair to complain that a film about being asleep is lacking in get-up-and-go, but The Good Night could do with a Red Bull and Pro-Plus. It stars Martin Freeman as a former pop star who, much like Hugh Grant in last year's Music and Lyrics, is now washed up and living in New York. His former bandmate, Simon Pegg, has become an advertising executive who employs his old buddy to write jingles, just as long as they're not too artistic.

And if Freeman is unfulfilled at work, he's just as miserable at home with his nagging girlfriend, Gwyneth Paltrow (sister of the writer-director, Jake Paltrow). His only happiness comes at night, when he dreams of a mystery woman in white, played by Penelope Cruz. He's so enthralled by her that he takes a "lucid dreaming" class taught by Danny DeVito so he can learn how to spend more quality time in the land of nod.

It's a fertile concept for a mind-expanding comedy drama, but although The Good Night has its thought-provoking moments, Paltrow doesn't have the madcap invention or the philosophical curiosity that Woody Allen or Michel Gondry might have brought to the idea. It's downbeat and dreary, too, even when Freeman is dreaming. Although he tells Pegg that his imaginary friend is inspirational and loving, we don't see Cruz say or do much except strike poses in her white tuxedo, as if Freeman's ultimate fantasy were a 1970s Martini advert. If he desires nothing more than to swank around with a blank-eyed model, why can't he – as an ex-pop star in the advertising business – do so when he's awake?

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