Critics were screening Sleepwalking around the same time as Snow Angels and you could tell who had seen which one first. Whoever saw one was prepared for the other one because they are the same type of depressing meandering stories about pathetic characters with no redeeming value.
Joleen (Charlize Theron) is kicked out of her home when her boyfriend is arrested. Her brother James (Nick Stahl) tries to help but she leaves with a vague plan to get things together and come back. James can't take care of Joleen's daughter Tara (AnnaSophia Robb), so child services take her. On visiting day, he breaks her out and they begin a road trip to visit his father (Dennis Hopper).
At least it's actually F'ed up. Joleen moves sleeping Tara out of the bedroom so she can screw a guy in there. If you're going to be miserable, at least be so wrong that it's outrageous.
After that though, it's really hard to be interested in a mom abandoning her kid and the kid looking for her. It's a story, which is more than Snow Angels had. It's still miserable lowlifes who can't hold menial jobs languishing in feeling bad. It's a pretty boring road trip. They just stop and mope.
What are we supposed to get out of that? Not even joy that we have it better, and definitely not an empathetic desire to help them. They're completely humorless because they don't even understand.
The score only calls attention to how depressing the film actively wants to be. They just play those two notes back and forth. Does that actually make anyone feel anything? Is there research on this? Some aesthetic analysis at least?
The saving grace is AnnaSophia Robb. She transcends this material with bright intelligence and charm. Tara is mature, which I like in movie children. She's smarter than her parents, and while that comes from the script, I believe there's something in Robb that makes it so convincing. Maybe there's hope for this generation yet.
Sleepwalking still only exists for actors to act all actor-y. Robb is worth it but it just goes nowhere.