Sleep Dealer

Movies Reviews Alex Rivera
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Sleep Dealer
Release Date:April 17 (limited)
Director: Alex Rivera
Writers: Rivera and David Riker
Cinematographer: Lisa Rinsler
Starring: Luis Fernando Peña, Leonor Varela
Studio/Run Time: Maya Entertainment, 90 mins.

Border politics + sci-fi
In writer/director Alex Rivera’s dystopian Sleep Dealer, a Matrix-like grid creates a class divide in which robot-controlled menial labor in the U.S. is parceled to Mexican VR farms. Memo (Luis Fernando Peña) is a virtual immigrant shifted by the currents, his family ravaged at the hands of a distant conglomerate. Like a William Gibson novel, Rivera nails the seedy details. A one-man bar band is comprised of a fat dude in his underwear, nodes plugged into his spine, controlling a mariachi ensemble’s worth of instruments. There is a love interest, “journalist” Luz (Leonor Varela)—in the future, writers don’t really write, see?—and a mysterious entity who pursues Memo. But Rivera spends too much time world-building. Characters—Memo’s father, especially—are vague, the underlying political implications weighing heavily. Still, the combination of classic sci-fi—including a climactic dogfight/trench battle—and class politics makes Rivera a potentially potent new voice.