Light Sleeper (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Powerhouse Films
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (24th January 2021).
The Film

An impressive neo-noir, which sees writer / director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Hardcore, Blue Collar) revisit rainswept New York, Light Sleeper tells of John LeTour (Willem Dafoe, Auto Focus), a drug dealer servicing a high-society clientele of Manhattan professionals. When his boss (Susan Sarandon, The Hunger) announces she is going straight and John encounters an old flame he still loves, his life is thrown into crisis. As he becomes involved in a police investigation surrounding a mysterious drug death, John prowls the night-time streets in search of redemption.


Moody neo-noir is visually typical of the late '80s; lots of rain and neon. Colour values are generally healthy but naturalistic. Flesh tones are natural and well rendered. Delineation is solid with no bleed. Black levels are satisfying and contrast is mellow and supportive. Most interiors that are well lit are flatter (the scenes with the therapist) but moodily lit scenes are stronger. Detail is generally excellent but the film does have a slightly soft aesthetic so detail tends to get the uptick in brighter moments, darker less so.

As is usual, the encode makes the most of the generally excellent master with a nice sheen of grain keeping the image filmic. No signs of digital tinkering or print damage; a fine transfer well handled across the board.

1080/24p / AVC MPEG-4 / 1.85:1 / 103:00


English LPCM 1.0
Subtitles: English HoH

Unusually for the era a mono track. Exceptionally well produced with great fidelity; dialogue is front and centre with music and ambiance nicely delineated when it needs to be. As good a mono track as I've ever heard. Shy of a complete rebuild from the sound stems this ain't gonna get any better.

Subtitles for the hearing impaired are de rigueur for this label which is great.


Audio Commentary with writer and director Paul Schrader (2002)

Vintage track off the old DVDs. Schrader is a fascinating director who's built up an impressive body of work since the '70s with several of his films being essential. Light Sleeper is one of his most anticipated of his films on BD. Plenty of detail and trivia for the faithful. Presented in lossy
Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo.

Selected-Scenes Commentary with actors Willem Dafoe and Susan Sarandon (2002) (17:46)

Another vintage piece, featuring the stars recorded separately, from the DVD; lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo.

"The Guardian Interview with Willem Dafoe Conducted by Jonathan Romney at the National Film Theatre, London on 8 November 1998" plays as an alternate audio track over the film (65:16)

Dafoe is smart, chatty experienced guy and is always well worth listening to in interviews and that is the case here; to the max because he's the whole deal in this track. Kicks off with some interesting material on his Steppenwolf theatre troupe work. A bit boxey in sound and the volume levels vary (keep the remote handy) but it's a vintage mono piece presented in Dolby Digital 2.0.

"The Midlife Movie: Paul Schrader Remembers Light Sleeper" 2020 featurette (17:43)
"The BAM Interview with Ed Lachman and Paul Schrader" 2008 featurette (31:02)
"Dear Paul Schrader, Thank You for Light Sleeper" 2020 featurette (10:37)

Theatrical Trailer (1:56)

Vintage promo.

Light Sleeper Image Gallery: Original Promotional Material (41 images)

Solid gallery presented in 1080/24p.

36-page liner notes booklet by Christina Newland, an archival on-set report for Sight and Sound by Kevin Jackson, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits

Meticulous hard copy contextual companion; essential for buffs.


Standard, clear Blu-ray case.


A much anticipated slice of Schrader gets the deluxe Powerhouse Treatment; string image and sound qualities coupled with extensive extras. Highly recomended.

The Film: B- Video: A Audio: A+ Extras: A+ Overall: A


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