Falling in love is one of the most tremendous experiences. Falling out of love is a different story. It is a painful, depressing rollercoaster of emotions; some would say an addiction. Director Christian Frei captures the anguish felt by three New Yorkers that were rejected by their significant other. Alley Scott, Michael Hariton, and Rosey La Rouge are documented through their long process towards acceptance and recovery, creating “Sleepless in New York”.
After several responses to a New York ad for recently rejected lovers, Frei followed three New Yorkers that struggled with their break ups. Scott was rejected four days prior to filming after a break up with her boyfriend of three years. Hariton was rejected two weeks prior to filming and felt lost after a nonchalant rejection from his girlfriend. La Rouge fell in love at a Mermaid Parade and became obsessed with a fantasy lover after a fling at the annual parade.
Helen Fisher, a Biological Anthropologist specializing in human love, sex relationships, and gender differences in the brain, provides insight in regards to the grieving process when falling out of love throughout “Sleepless in New York”. After analyzing several New Yorkers brains, Fisher analyzes Scott’s brain when discussing her ex lover. Regions involving physical pain were activated, indicating that the acceptance process caused both physical and emotional pain.
“When you get rejected in love, you still continue to love them. In fact you love them harder.”
After sleepless nights and gloomy cello practices, “Sleepless in New York” recounts the New Yorkers intimate and memorable events with their significant others. Their personal stories increase the heaviness and pain felt after their love loss and questions why someone with such promising moments would reject them. Ridiculed by the unknown reason of their rejection, their stories become more compelling with determination to find their answers. Throughout their journey, the three spend hours weeping and removing old memories of their ex-lovers as they rely on friends and family for support.
“Sleepless in New York” emphasizes that love has become our addiction. The reactions, pain, and withdrawal experienced after being rejected show a similar recovery process when overcoming an addiction. Fisher provides studies and research indicating the similarities between the addiction to love, drugs, and the fragile states the addicts’ share. Moving in a stage-like direction, the New Yorkers go through incremental phases that drive the documentary to its gratifying resolution.
“If I close my eyes, I remember how he smells – that drug… I just want one hit. Just one fix of that smell.”
Frei’s documentary illustrates the theatrical journey of love found and love lost. The New Yorkers’ tales are relatable, touching, and inspirational, which ironically caused the film to mimic the emotional rollercoaster of love. By stressing the addiction of love and the difficult process of rejection, “Sleepless in New York” sends a resonating message that overwhelms you with the power of love.