All the World is Sleeping Review- A Raw and Gritty Performance From Barrera

Films about drug addiction or alcoholism aren’t anything new in Hollywood. What distinguishes them are the filmmakers who make them and the actors or actresses who play the characters featured in them. In the case of All the World is Sleeping it’s Melissa Barrera who is the draw for viewers to see or seek out this film and the style in which it’s written/filmed by the director Ryan Lacen. He seems to have a vested interest in telling this story.

Chama (Melissa Barrera, In the Heights, Scream) is a single mother in New Mexico. She struggles to provide for her daughter Nevaeh (Adlynn Marie Menendez), while constantly seeking out drugs with her friend Toaster (Jackie Cruz) She tries to find work as a mechanic but nothing seems to work out for her. She falls back on her sister Mari (Alexis Santiago) for help quite often, but there is resentment in her eyes toward her sister. She also resorts to selling her body for money and drugs. It’s all she knows. Even though this is a story of a latino woman this could be any woman in America that is going through these kinds of difficulties.Its a generational thing.

Barrera is known for a few different films in the last few years. She has stood out in musicals, horror films and survival films. This is the best thing she’s done in her short career. She shows a range that she hasn’t shown in her previous films. This story isn’t for the faint of heart, but she gives everything she has as this young woman who has nothing but problems in her life. As an addict she expresses everything from cold sweats to crying and everything in between. This is the typical behavior for a woman who is detoxing from drug addiction. This couldn’t have been an early role for her but she proves she was perfectly cast in this time. 

The filmmaker uses various ways to tell this story. He shows the viewer watching how the main character got to this point in the story with flashbacks. He also has Barrera’s character narrate her own story for those watching and he has a device where he shows women in a therapy group talking about their own lives. This most effective thing in the film in showing the state that Berrera’s character is in is she imagines voices in her head that are telling her the wrong things. It’s very painful for her having to go through this.

The cast is very good. Most of them are in small roles but Barrera’s character sister, young and older are very good. Both past and present scenes with the young Chama, her mother, and her friends show how difficult her life has been, but it’s one particular event that finally shakes her life to its core. That’s what proves to be the ultimate thing that drives her to finally get the help she needs. When you’re a drug addict or alcoholic you have to want to get help or help yourself and in this case she finally does get  that help she needs. Another cast member Jorge Garcia from Lost fame plays a drug counselor and he is good in this role. 

I know I’m not a woman or a mother but I’ve been an alcoholic in my lifetime. I am now ten years sober. It was the best decision I have ever made in my life. It hasn’t made my life better but I feel like I’m better off because of it. Knowing that a substance doesn’t control my life anymore makes me feel good. The Garcia character is like the conscience for Barrera’s character. He gets her to finally take action and show she has to want to change to get better. The treatment center gives her a little perspective on life as well. Hearing the different stories from the other women who are going through similar experiences makes it more real what she has and is going through in her life.

All the World Is Sleeping is an eye opening film about drug addiction and one woman’s journey to get clean and get her life back on track. She had a rough upbringing which caused her to go down the wrong path but her daughter was the thing that she kept surviving for. A lot of people have gone through and are going through similar things as this film depicts but Barrera gives this character a heft that makes it a more heavier depiction of this epidemic. She is a very good young actress but this role proves she is a great actress in waiting. The director Lacen uses a few tricks to make this film mean a lot and it does. People need to see this movie if not just for Berrara’s gritty and raw performance.

4 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

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