In a Time for Sleep follows the isolated struggle of two women. Through one victim’s attempt to gain freedom, another victim finds herself free. Both have suffered at the hands of the same oppressor, and the pain and rejection that both admit to have faced binds them in a way they’d never imagined.
Split into a few distinct segments, a story is told with honesty and a refreshing lack of pretence by director Tofiq Rzayev, born in Azerbaijan, whose work never fails to give viewers brief glimpses into his native land. From a highly explosive start, the film slows down and becomes reflective and gentle, moving freely and reshaping it from a story of psychological abuse to one of new love and new opportunities. The film is wholly sympathetic of its female leads.
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They have both sinned, in different ways, but the director offers us absolutely no sympathy for the victim, simply by providing us with a short exchange at dinner. Here we see oppressed and oppressor, Leyla and her boyfriend Arda, locked into a fight, and on account of the abuser’s repulsive indifference and endless lack of respect, we instantly know which side to choose. The director presents his story through the eyes of his protagonist, Leyla; the events of the film are guided by her narration and fit together smoothly and elegantly. The relationship that develops between the two women is what makes up the second part of the film.
It is a relationship built upon a sense of freedom, mutual understanding, and quest for something better. In a world that appears to have been cruel to these two women – why else would they tolerate such treatment? – they find a new way of living through each other. The film being as short as it is, the complexity of emotions felt can only be hinted at, but the filmmakers pace each scene well, and do not feel pressured to overcomplicate the dialogue. Everything is stated as how it is; feelings are expressed in simple words.
Watch In a Time for Sleep here: