Davey (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is low in the chain drug dealer. Goes to the parties, sells his dope and gets laid and keeps moving on for the next day. This is something we know of that fatal night in the film. After he is returning home, the people that have been following and watching pulls him to that dark and scary place. Boad rapes Davey and that brings the eventual suicide at his apartment. And it brings back his brother Will, a man laying low for three years after his previous life of gangster. A damn good one from the reputation the people speak of him or do not speak of him.
A film without any suspense of this investigation Will begins on is about him, deeply. His mother (Charlotte Rampling) is unable to erase the adamancy his eldest son has towards being detached with people, despite his past. Will is the man leading his days in the big van and working menial jobs. Is he trying to make amends or punishing himself for the life he has led? He comes back eventually and meets his mother. That is a touching powerful scene.
Will does not speak much now a day and as he says so to his mother. He has gone by weeks without speaking to a soul. I have had mine for couple of days. It becomes conscious when it is over and for Will it is an exercise as I could imagine. Rethinking the regrets and the lives he put in those, he does not know how to react to those. He summarizes those unexplainable actions in a single line to his mother which is sad and knocks you out.
And when Will does speak, it cannot be more precise and known. He does not punctuate to make his point rather state it like a fact. He is fast on getting to the things he wants to say. He meets up with his old crew for first time in three years and he shocks them. Outside of a ragged appearance of cave man, he is cleansing his soul which never can do an absolution.
There are other characters apart from Will but he brings down the weight to the audience whenever he is looking through those eyes which scares and attracts. He is a saint with a rage under control. Throughout the film, it goes upon that electric force Will has over the people he meets. There are two such scenes which comes of greater relevance of his presence. One is the report he reads line by line given by the Coroner sitting still and patient. The second being the verdict on the second postmortem he hears. Both the cases the members communicating with him are careful, very immensely careful delivering news, the bad news. That is the mood of the film which remains till the melancholic ending.
Clive Owen’s physical appearance is a much needed makeover for the character of Will. He is stunning when he cleans up but that sharpness is there because of the ruggedness he posed for most part of the film. This is a film of obvious style but calculate one. It does not side step from the story and uses those as a character punch lines than an unneeded aesthetic nuances. In Clive Owen, it cannot be more present than any one else.
The reason to know the actions is something needed to move on. It does not fast the process but adds tool to satiate the quench of the boggling mind. Will comes to the city in a hunch of hallucinating his brother for a second just before he was about to leave to a new place. Yet when he discovers the death, the itch has started when the grief has tired enough. To do that he will go to people with an agenda. For an avenging story, there is little violence but it is affecting. A strong film with a very strong character makes “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” a better film in this genre.