Tonight You’re Sleeping With Me is a Netflix Original Polish-language romance drama directed by Robert Wichrowski and written by Anna Janyska and Anna Szczypczynska. It’s quite bad. Nina (Roma Gasiorowska) once had a passionate fling with a high schooler Janek (Maciej Musial) and now that he’s back in Poland and working as her assistant, her loveless marriage to her husband Maciek (Wojciech Zielinski) feels even more unbearable than ever. Should she stay with him to keep her family together with her two young kids, or should she pursue real happiness for once and run away with Janek? Frankly, I don’t care what she does, and it seems like the movie might not either.
Getting into the premise of Tonight You’re Sleeping With Me is a tall order in the first place. There’s no reason why you can’t make a good romance about somebody cheating on their husband and realizing she ought to be with the other guy instead, but we’re not exactly a society that feels great about infidelity, so you have to work extra hard to show that this is not only the right choice physically, but morally too.
This movie doesn’t especially do either very well. There’s nothing romantically or sexually interesting about Nina and Janek together; they’re fine, but they’re not special. Nina is miserable all the time, which isn’t her fault and not a judgment on her character itself but does make for pretty weak sexual chemistry. Meanwhile, Janek is just an average conventionally attractive person. Oh, he knows how to buy a gift for a kid and say some cringy lines to make a person who hasn’t been loved in years swoon? Big whoop. His shirtless ironing dance scene does nothing for me. Knowing how to iron and have fun don’t make you interesting, they’re basic qualifiers for potential interesting-ness, which he passes but does nothing to exceed whatsoever from then on.
The other requisite of convincing an audience that a main character should leave their husband is making you hate or loathe him too. Tonight You’re Sleeping With Me spends nearly the whole movie trying to make you feel that way, and fairly successfully. He’s very controlling, very very bad at communicating, and literally leaves in the middle of the movie to go trek in Iceland, or something. But then, all of the sudden, he has a proverbial come to Jesus moment and we’re supposed to feel bad for him? Like him even? There’s a massive tone shift toward the end of the movie where what seemed like it was meant to be such an obvious trajectory becomes deeply muddled.
This isn’t the problem itself. I think in a different movie, this sudden muddling of what the right choice should be could have been really interesting, especially given the movie proceeds to seemingly stop taking sides all of the sudden and leave Nina in a really precarious place. The problem is that by the end, I don’t care what choice she makes because I think either of them suck. Just because the movie suddenly tries to redeem Maciek doesn’t mean I find him remotely redeemable as a husband or father, and Nina and Janek’s relationship just feels utterly inappropriate.
A hot workplace affair? Sure! A boring workplace affair with somebody you met when they were still a high school senior? Absolutely not. The second this information dropped, I was completely and irreversible turned off. The movie already started with some uncomfortable lines between Janek and another character at work who says all sorts of inappropriate, borderline harassing things to him. The fact that their entire relationship is built around an inappropriate power dynamic in the first place is bad, but putting a second one on top of that without even making their relationship feel exciting is too much. They literally just go on boring walks in boring places and have boring sex in his boring, poorly lit house. No thanks.
The singular redeeming aspect I can think of is that Nina’s clothes are generally bright, colorful, and interesting. In a movie that is generally colorless, dim, and full of boring people, herself somewhat included, at least there’s one thing visually interesting to grip onto. The other almost-interesting thing the movie does is spend a long time in the beginning setting up this conversation between Nina and Janek about bodies, corporealness, the distinction between our bodies and our genders, and the distinction between our bodies and our beings. It’s nearly interesting because duh, but it’s not interesting ultimately because it not only goes nowhere but it ends up feeling like a false flag when Janek and Nina’s whole relationship basically winds up revolving around their wanting to have sex with each other.
Instead of following through on this thread, Tonight You’re Sleeping With Me instead decides at the last minute to throw in a bit about deciding whether to stay with somebody who’s physically unwell or not. If the first half of the movie is asking us to consider that people’s bodies are not their whole beings, why should I be interested in regressing the conversation back to whether should I stay with my dying wife or disabled husband?
Tonight You’re Sleeping With Me just isn’t good. None of the things it asks us to think about are followed through on, the things it does make me think about make me very uncomfortable, and there isn’t a single piece of excitement or interest coming from any of its main characters. In fact, most of the bad dialogue or the intentional characterizations just make me loathe both of them by the end. Plus, every side plot from the relationship between Nina and her mother to the last leg of Maciek’s Icelandic lark feels shoehorned. It’s all just bad.
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