Asleep in My Palm

Asleep in my palm
Asleep in my Palm
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These are Henry Nelson’s musings on life, existence and learned resilience up against themes of loneness and desperation in his new indie film Asleep in My Palm. Most of the characters in this movie, just like those in last year’s Nomadland are often found in off-grid communities and have come up with creative ways to survive amidst the chaos of a modern world that is increasingly hollow and immoral.

Tom, our protagonist for instance is acted by Tim Blake Nelson who is also the father/producer of the director. The man featured here had a role in Dune: Part Two that was being filmed at the time. Alongside him as one of the lead characters is Chloë Kerwin (Test Screening) who plays Beth Anne, Tom’s teenage daughter. The story now unfolds starting from this pivotal father-daughter connection. But they’re both getting closer to their breaking points. Tom has been working hard to create another identity for himself while refusing to accept his violent past anymore; at same time, his daughter Beth Anne experiences an awakening both sexually and personally demanding more independence from her parents.

Asleep in My Palm by Henry Nelson is a fine debut feature that should see him become a filmmaker to watch out for by all means necessary. Another example of how strong independent films can be comes up when we compare this simple yet deeply affecting Story telling with its mind blowing final scene.

“It’s sorta good,” says Tom about life once when he talks to Beth Anne about Asleep In My Palm.” It was planned that way because if they were always going outside where they lived someone would begin to suspect something strange.” “We create it only so we can despise it,” Tom continues, “and then get mad when unasked change screws us over it again, And then we build it somewhere else.”

Beth Ann had gotten used hearing such thought-provoking phrases from her dad. Hence the film begins with Tom’s added narrative of Chicken little who warned all that the sky was falling. Yet, Beth Ann still remains an ever inquisitive listener. “Where did you live before me?” she asks him. To which he casually replies: “Loneliness was my home before I had you, It never really went away either.”

She naturally asks him back, “You’re so lonely?” He says in return, “Not a negative one if that makes sense; we all need some. Almost like it’s what we were born for and then everything else is just something to get it back from. Anything I could give you would be having to depend on no one and nothing else but yourself; being unbreakable and invisible.”

In the past, Tom has done so without fail. For some time, he’s been running or living on the edge of society. Moreover, we’re given to believe that he is educated and intelligent when Tom and his partner-in-crime Jose (Jared Abrahamson in The Changeling), begin to discuss life’s tribulations. They are only partners for money; they steal bicycles from campus to top up their ever-changing bank accounts. Meanwhile, Jose is a bull in china shop who lacks any grounding and shrewdness that will enable him to go far in life thus giving the film an opportunity to delve deeper into Tom’s genius and edginess. In general, there is a variety of people here who provide a more personal look into rarely seen parts of society.

By doing less Henry Nelson covers great ground here. It allows for few days’ happenings with Tom, Beth Anne and Jose to occur naturally until it reaches its climax. At one time Tom and Jose are busy “at work” while Beth Anne meets some miscreants that she finds herself among down at a warehouse hideaway. He takes pride in his narcissistic way of living outside the grid with other like-minded rebels is Dark Mortius (Grant Harvey). However it is Millah (Gus Birney from Shining Vale) Dark’s comrade where the usually alienated Beth Anne gets warmed.

Millah goes out for the night looking for fun as usual. Millah isn’t buying into this crazy game proposed by Dark though. And when it comes push come to shove between Beth Anne & Millah her revelations about how she lived become sweeter than sweetest honey: everything was protected her all these years! An intimate kiss ignites a desire for more but wants Millah wants to know more about Beth Anne? These scenes are some of the most powerful ones in the movie however Henry Nelson’s script saves all good things until the last flipping the whole dynamics.

The movie’s major turning point occurs when Tom spirals downward and Beth Anne, while confused, has a chance at redemption. We won’t tell you any more about this film’s big twist ending, which is just that–quietly revealed.

Tom and Beth Anne switch roles at the important mid-way point of the movie—he descends into darkness, she ascends in confusion. Not much more can be said about a film that deliberately doesn’t reveal its hand until all is done, except to say that it is quietly brilliant.

One of Tim Blake Nelson greatest performances ever comes in this film despite his superb turns in Just Mercy (2019), Lincoln (2012), Minority Report (2002) O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000), The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs (2018). In any other era or with a major studio release Nelson would be considered an oscar contender for this role.

Beth Anne’s portrayer Chloë Kerwin creates the character’s vulnerability, curiosity and strength beautifully. She has a bright future ahead of her as an actress. Written well with power and smart editing by Henry Nelson takes viewers inside an intriguing unseen aspect of American life that shows its suffering and stubborn will to continue living. Also examining how society fractures itself over time, places where one cannot escape their dark pasts or what 2020s hold for many people overnight.

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