To Sleep with Anger

Watch To Sleep with Anger

"When Harry comes to town, he brings good times, bad times… And a lot of trouble!"
  • PG
  • 1990
  • 1 hr 42 min
  • 7.2  (2,842)

To Sleep with Anger is a thought-provoking drama that examines the complexities of family relations, generational divide, and cultural tensions in African American communities. Directed by Charles Burnett, the movie stars Danny Glover as Harry Mention, a charming and mysterious man who comes to stay with his old friends, the Grahams, in their middle-class home in South Central Los Angeles.

At first, Harry is welcomed as a long-lost acquaintance, a conniving storyteller with a contagious laugh and a flair for making trouble. He ingratiates himself with the elder Mr. and Mrs. Graham, played with subtle poise by Paul Butler and Mary Alice, by regaling them with fanciful anecdotes about his travels and his encounters with famous musicians and magicians. He also bonds with their grown-up children, Babe Brother (Richard Brooks) and Suzie (Sheryl Lee Ralph), who are skeptical of Harry's motives but fascinated by his insinuating charm.

However, as Harry's stay extends from days to weeks, his presence starts to exert a disruptive influence on the Grahams' stable existence. He plants seeds of discord among the family members, exploiting their tensions and grievances while deflecting any suspicion of his own intentions. He intervenes in their domestic affairs, sowing doubts about their values, their aspirations, and their sense of belonging. He also forms a close bond with Little Eli (DeVaughn Nixon), Babe Brother's adolescent son, who is eager to learn about his African heritage and fascinated by Harry's sorcery and folklore.

As the plot unfolds, To Sleep with Anger reveals its deeper themes of cultural identity, psychological conflict, and intergenerational struggle. Harry represents not only the archetypal trickster and the outsider who challenges the norm, but also the embodiment of the dark forces that haunt the African American psyche, such as the legacy of slavery, the erosion of family ties, and the loss of spiritual roots. His antics, at once hilarious and menacing, expose the fault lines of the Grahams' family dynamic and their uneasy relationship with their black heritage.

The movie is notable for its nuanced performances, subtle humor, and poignant social commentary. Danny Glover shines in the role of Harry, conveying both the charisma and the malevolence of his character with remarkable ease. He embodies the slippery slope between charm and menace, between generosity and manipulation, playing on the audience's sympathies and doubts. The supporting cast is equally impressive, with Paul Butler and Mary Alice giving understated performances as the aging parents who struggle to maintain their dignity and their authority in the face of Harry's intrusion. Richard Brooks and Sheryl Lee Ralph also deliver convincing portrayals of the siblings who clash over their divergent visions of success and tradition.

To Sleep with Anger stands out for its insightful exploration of the complexity and diversity of the African American experience. It delves into the tensions and contradictions that arise within a community that is grappling with its history, its cultural heritage, and its aspirations for the future. It also highlights the importance of family ties, intergenerational dialogue, and spiritual grounding in facing the challenges of modern life. Ultimately, the movie offers a profound meditation on the role of grace, redemption, and forgiveness in overcoming the wounds of the past and forging a new path forward.

To Sleep with Anger is a 1990 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 42 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.2.

To Sleep with Anger
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 42 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.2  (2,842)