Director: Joby Harold
A rich young cat (Christensen) gets foobarred when he winds up on the operating table for a little bit of that old heart surgery tango. To make things even worse, as the messy procedure unfolds he finds himself awake and “feeling everything” even though he was put under (they call it anesthetic awareness). A shit load of pain, interior monologues and harsh revelations ensues.
The only thing I knew about AWAKE before I barged into the theatre and let out a loud burp to mark my territory was that it starred hot assed, big lipped Jessica Alba. Actually, that in itself had my expectations on the low jive given that although Alba is one heck of a tasty looking trinket, I can’t say that I’ve dug many of her films beyond IDLE HANDS. So did AWAKE manage to keep me that way?
OUCH, what a rough way to start the day (it was a mornings screening). At the halfway mark, I almost McSpewed the Egg McMuffin I had gobbled beforehand onto the theatre floor. NOTE TO SELF: If I ever need heart surgery…F*CK THAT SHITE and just die! END OF NOTE. Now, AWAKE was an odd watch at first. I didn’t know where it was coming from or where it was going. Granted it hooked me right off the bat with its convincing love story (Christensen and Alba so made it happen), its likeable lead duder, the tantalizing glimpses into his shady past and his peculiar relationship with ma-ma (brilliantly played by Lena Olin). But for a while there, I actually didn’t think that this baby would be AITH material! It was coming off as some quasi artsy character study/relationship movie. An engrossing and affecting one but an artsy character study/relationship movie none the less.
Then the sucker punch was launched. The rug was pulled from under me and I gradually found out just how deep the rabbit-hole went! Yup, the time the flick slyly took to develop its characters and their relationships was all about setting me up for this “moment”. To make sure that when the hammer swung down, it smacked hard. And boy did it ever! Once the scalpel hit the flesh; the ride switched tones and revealed the morbid game it was playing. I was right there with our hero as layers were peeled away and revelations popped out of the wood work to back-hand him (and me) silly. Shite I even pulled a man-bitch and got teary eyed at one point (don’t tell anybody). Big props to the filmmakers for pulling off a thriller/mystery revolving around freaking “heart surgery” and “anesthetic awareness” while retaining emotional resonance. It didn’t work 100% all the time but when it did, I loved it and when it didn’t I still respected the “College try”.
Which brings me to my peeves. The film just wasn’t as smart as it thought it was. I didn’t fully buy into the whole thing, especially when looking back. The “bad guy” motive was damn weak, the “master plan” was filled with holes, a couple of suspense ploys didn’t feel true and everything unraveled a little too conveniently during the final act. Furthermore, I wish we had less Christensen on a slab talking in voice-overs and more Christensen in real time taking the bull by the horns. I found myself missing the guy, not good since…well… he was the lead! And was this movie over baked in the editing room or was it me? My Spidey-Sense kept telling me that “meat” was shaved off in the name of pacing (it clocks at 78 minutes BTW). Lastly, the finale although satisfying in a “neat and tidy” and artsy way left me craving a pinch more. Good old fashioned retribution came to mind... would've been swell...
For the most part though AWAKE was a pleasant surprise, a film with novel ideas and that pulled them off often enough. I’m happy I saw it, not sure if it’s big screen worthy, but definitely a rental when it’s out on DVD. Let’s dissect this bitch!
We get some uber realistic, wince inducing and graphic open heart surgery bits that made this hard nut crack. Yowzer!
Hayden Christensen (Clay) nailed this one! Just goes to show how good he can be when George Lucas isn’t directing him. He had the quiet strength, heart on his sleeve thing going on and I lapped it up. Terrence Howard (Jack) took a fairly small role and brought nuances to it. Awesome! Jessica Alba (Sam) had the sweet girl thang down pat and shared genuine chemistry with Christensen. Lena Olin (Mother) brought the f*cker home with her focused, intense, internal and hypnotizing display. With the material this lady is quite the solid actress!
T & A
The closest we get to some Alba loving is her in a wet top and side shots of her breasts. The ladies get all the Christensen shirtless shots they could ask for!
Joby Harold showed lots of maturity behind the lens for a fairly new filmmaker. The flick had a smooth flow to it, very artistically inclined shots and a somber mood. Harold’s also handled his actors and the dramatic content like a champ! Sold!
The poignant score by Samuel Sim amplified the sadness, tragedy and dread of the story. Powerful.
AWAKE made me know and care for its people in depth, before dragging them and me down to hell. GREAT MOVE! It also put out a compelling premise, solid acting all around, an endearing artsy vibe and enough twists to keep me reeled in like the trout that I am. Sure the whole “what’s really going on” angle was shaky in terms of the ‘why” and the “how”, the plot devices didn’t always feel organic and I would’ve so boogied to having Christensen’s character be a bigger part of the actual action. With that yapped, it was a lot of fun, hence I couldn’t help to…well… have fun! Not the sharpest tool in the shed, but it had enough heart, balls and originality to please. Worth a gander!
Helen Mirren and Sigourney Weaver were bothup for Lena Olin part at some point.
Jared Leto was the original choice to play Clay.
Jessica Alba replaced Kate Bosworth when she booked out to do Superman Returns.
SLICE OPEN THE AWAKE OFFICIAL SITE HERE