Comedian Mike Birbiglia has often told the droll, weird particulars of his sleep disorder: He physically enacts his dreams as they unfold, at such serious risk of self-harm that he now slumbers zipped up in a sleeping bag. He’s spun the tale as a monologue on the public-radio show This American Life, in a play, and in a book. Feats of raconteur storytelling are always tricky to translate into something effective and fluid enough to be movieworthy. But Sleepwalk With Me sticks the landing.
Birbiglia (who directed and stars with actorly ease) smooshes up time sequences and narrative form in this semiautobiographical comedy, sometimes talking directly to the audience à la Woody Allen, sometimes doubling back to comment on his own actions. He links together his sleep condition with a pitilessly self-aware dramatic demonstration of what it takes to succeed as a stand-up comic — surviving crap gigs, crap food, rootlessness. And as he plays a fictional version of himself, he makes a convincing case for why such a fellow might not make the best romantic partner. Lauren Ambrose is lovely as the girlfriend he’s a fool to lose but seems intent on losing anyhow. A- (Also available on VOD)