One of IMDb’s FAQs for The Big Sleep reads: “I’m hopelessly confused. Who killed whom and why?” I’ve no problem with films through which I have to be alert, but I certainly was hopelessly confused from the beginning – and I felt as though The Big Sleep didn’t want to give me a second chance to get on board. “Don’t get what’s going on? Tough shit – we ain’t waiting for you.”
We’re supposed to identify with Bogart’s Philip Marlowe, but as he unravels a series of increasingly intricate mysteries, I ended up feeling more like the naive young Martha Vickers character – confused as shit, not worth the time it would take to explain everything, and feeling as though everything would be resolved whether I’m along for the ride or not.
It’s not a great feeling, to be isolated from even the most straightforward revelation. And, although I’m sure it’s not the case, it seems like The Big Sleep was written to be just a big fat pat on the back for people who can keep pace with a professional private detective. I don’t want something mindless, by any means, but if you can’t get on board with The Big Sleep in the first twenty minutes, you’re not going to enjoy the other ninety-four.
I was worried I’d be given the opportunity to make fun of the film’s title (The Big Sleep is aptly named, or something like that). Instead, I’ll say this: The Big Sleep is a real dick.