“The Ties That Bind and Bless the Soul”: Grace and Noir in Schrader’s Light Sleeper

  • Author(s): Jason Ambrosiano
  • When: 1998-10
  • Where: Journal of Religion and Film
  • At the end of Paul Schrader's Light Sleeper, drug dealer and protagonist John LeTour (Willem Dafoe) sits facing his friend and ex-boss Ann (Susan Sarandon). Awaiting sentencing for an unspecified conviction (presumably dealing and manslaughter), LeTour is still optimistic. He takes Ann's hand, smiles at her and says 'I've been looking forward." She smiles back at him and answers, "Strange how things work." As he kisses her hand and the film moves to its final frame, LeTour's romantic voice-over (done by singer Michael Been of the rock group, "The Call")1 sings an important line in the story:
    "All our eyes have seen, all our arms embrace/ All that lives and breathes, each beloved face/ Standing at the door, the book is open wide/ Now I seal my fate, now I step inside."

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