The Sleepy Time Gal

Christopher Munch, one of America’s most gifted independent filmmakers, follows his features The Hours and Times (1991) and Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day (1996) with this lovely and moving 2001 drama, a speculative account of his late mother’s early life in which a woman (Jacqueline Bisset) and her long-lost illegitimate daughter (Martha Plimpton) pursue each other without ever meeting. By all rights it should have put Munch on the map, yet it wound up premiering only on the Sundance Channel last spring (when I wrote about it in Section One) and consequently hasn’t attracted the buzz it deserves. A multifaceted look at a varied life, it has wonderful performances not only by Bisset and Plimpton but also by its secondary cast, including Nick Stahl as the woman’s gay son, Amy Madigan as the nurse who cares for Bisset after she becomes ill, Seymour Cassel as a former lover, Peggy Gormley as his wife, and Frankie R. Faison as a radio station manager. Months after seeing this, I still feel I know most of these people as if they were old friends. 94 min. (JR)

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