‘Tesla’ Review: What happens when you fall asleep during a movie

Every film critic or fan knows the feeling.

The eyes are getting heavy, the energy drinks won’t work, and the movie just keeps on playing. Other people in the theater are fine, but something just isn’t clicking.

Nobody wants to admit it, but I will. I tried to watch Ethan Hawke-an actor I admire if not love-in the film, “Tesla.” There were good intentions. I sat down, ready to learn about the guy who transmitted electrical power and light. For about 45-55 minutes, the film partially held my attention.

Michael Almereyda’s film carried the mad hatter documentary feel, with black and white visuals and a score that paid tribute to “Ed Wood” in its neurotic oddness. The film kept its distance in laying out Nikola Tesla’s trials and tribulations before he became well known as a visionary inventor. The pacing was uneven, and the film never seemed to be quite sure of what it was going for.

I didn’t make it, passing out right up until the moment right before the credits. I haven’t made it back to watch it. Perhaps some day, I will give it another shot. But in the world of film, if a film comes out and simply isn’t irresistible, it can be quickly forgotten. Carrying a score of 69% on Rotten Tomatoes, one could put together that this wasn’t a bad film. Right now, it’s simply not one worth returning to.

Everybody else in the smaller portions of the Galleria 6 Cinemas theater seemed to get up and reconcile with what they just saw. I didn’t hear any “HOLY SHIT it was remarkable” findings. I didn’t hear any raving reviews or total slams. I did hear sweet nothings from a fellow cinematic passenger such as this, “Buffa, you fell asleep!” Confirmed. I did.

Some writers probably wouldn’t admit this, but then again, why not? What is IFC going to do when they find out I didn’t finish their film? Come for my head and take all my Stella Artois. Are they going to stop sending me movies? Nope. They need me more than I need them.

I rarely fall asleep in new movies, at least nothing more than a few snoozy drifts. When I came to right as “Tesla” was wrapping up, the first thing that came to mind was rather blunt: “Only if this film had a little more electricity, maybe I would have stayed awake.”

According to most reviews, it hit its mark. For me, it was a movie that didn’t require me to run home and try to rewatch it. If I had an actual couch to lay on, I wouldn’t make it through 30 minutes.

I did make it up to Hawke, watching his Oscar-nominated (and deservedly so) performance alongside a riveting Denzel Washington in Antoine Fuqua’s “Training Day.” I couldn’t fall asleep in that film even after a ten mile run.

Better luck next time, I guess. Cheers.

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