I Can’t Sleep

This characteristic walk on the wild side from writer-director Claire Denis attracted my interest mainly for its cunning portrait of a particular Paris quartier, the 18th arrondissement, through its diverse assortment of neighbors; others may be drawn to the movie because it’s about serial killers. Based on a true story about a gay coupleone a West Indian with a wife, the other a female impersonatorwho murdered more than 20 elderly women in Paris in late 1987, this 1994 film has a Hitchcockian sense of crisscrossing lives and festering compulsions that recalls Rear Window and Frenzy, though it isn’t a thriller in any ordinary sense. The killers are probably more interesting than anyone else here (other characters include a female karate teacher and a recent immigrant from Lithuania). But the subject is too tired to generate all the interest the film assumes we’ll have, and the depiction of the murders is unvarnished. With Richard Courcet, Vincent Dupont, and Beatrice Dalle. 110 min. (JR)

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