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Dream For An Insomniac

In Dream For An Insomniac, director Tiffanie DeBartolo's inauspicious debut, Ione Skye stars as a sour-faced, narcissistic caffeine junkie who's holding out for the perfect mate. In the meantime, she works long afternoons behind the counter at a San Francisco coffeehouse owned by her Italian uncle (Seymour Cassel, with an accent that suggests Chico Marx) and spends sleepless nights rifling through the great works of literature. When the Sinatra-eyed MacKenzie Astin applies for a job at the cafe, Skye's drab world literally switches from black-and-white to color—a powerful dramatic device in The Wizard Of Oz or Andrei Rublev, but not so striking in this middling romantic comedy. But that ill-conceived technical gimmick is only one of many shortcuts DeBartolo takes to enchantment: The chemistry between Skye and Astin is based entirely on grueling, non-stop referential dialogue, as if neither of them has forgotten a word of Kierkegaard, Tennyson, or Cobain. The sole obstacle in their relationship—Astin's earnest, toothy girlfriend, played by Leslie Stevens—can't possibly compete. For a movie that collected dust for years before finding a distributor, Dream For An Insomniac isn't a total wash, thanks to a handful of good supporting performances—including one by Jennifer Aniston, who contributes to the film's reassuring sitcom atmosphere. But if it was DeBartolo's intent to make an arty TV pilot, that's hardly a laudable ambition.

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