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The film is based on Dr. Leo Sayer(Williams) and his work with people who have come down with a mysterious sleeping-sickness in 1918, which has left them in a catatonic state. Dr. Sayer is a shy person who is not comfortable conversing with others, but is also a very dedicated neurologist. He starts to work with these "sleeping" people and thinks that he senses something in them that is alive deep inside. He begins to work with a man called Leonard Lowe(DeNiro), and takes a special interest in him. He reads up on the drug L-Dopa, which had helped people in similiar states as his patients, and tries to convince the hospital and Leonard's mother to try the drug on her son. They allow the test to happen, and Leonard wakes up from his "sleep". The drug is then tried on his other patients with similar results. You would think that it was a happy story from thereafter, but life is not full of Hollywood endings, and the story does not take the easy way out. It won't leave you depressed or exhilarated but somewhere in between, like life is most of the time.Read more ›
Based on Oliver Sack's book, AWAKENINGS recounts the story of a miracle that occurred in a New York hospital during the mid-1960s. Bucking the system and believing in his theory, Williams' character brings back a dozen patients who appear catatonic--DeNiro being one of them. Through massive applications of the drug L-Dopa, the patients revive and take sheer joy out of just simple tasks. Although the sad ending has been given away by others, I feel the film remains a positive story. It is about human endurance and also about the joys we some times take for granted.
I am an enormous fan of Robert DeNiro's. He is one of the greatest actors of all time, in my opinion. However, sometimes both that reputation and the showiness of a particular part overwhelms all the other performers in a particular film, robbing those performers of notoriety that is well deserved.
This is especially true in Awakenings. DeNiro plays Leonard Lowe, a man who awakens from a 30 year coma, experiences life in 1969 New York, then tragically slips back into that coma by the end of the film. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences loves to nominate performances like DeNiro's -- namely those where the actor has to simulate mental retardation, physical disabilities, fatal diseases or other handicaps. Some of these nominated performances are truly deserving of recognition, such as Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot, Leonardo DiCaprio in What's Eating Gilbert Grape and Tom Hanks in Forest Gump. However, many of these performances are not, such as Jodie Foster in Nell (Janeane Garofalo did a devastating parody of her performance on Saturday Night Live) and Ali MacGraw in Love Story. DeNiro's performance in Awakenings is much more of the former than the latter -- he is always good and his performance in this film is no exception. However, to me, the truly great performance in Awakenings is by Robin Williams.
Williams plays DeNiro's physician, Malcom Sayer, a dedicated caring doctor who nonetheless is a shy, introverted loner who admits to Leonard at one point that he is "not good with people." In real life, Williams is so extroverted and so manic that in many of his performances that personality leaks out and intrudes on the characters he plays on film.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In my opinion, this is Robert De Niro's and Robin Williams' finest work. The subject matter is difficult and heartrending, but so well worth your time if you want a peek at the... Read morePublished 10 days ago by Julie Kay Smithson
Loved this movie back in the day and I watched it again the other day. Arrived as expected.Published 28 days ago by Barrett
Really enjoyed this story after reading Oliver Sack's memoir. Great acting also.Published 1 month ago by Theresa Houtman
Excellent film -- De Niro in particular shines in his performance as a patient with post encephalitic parkinsonism who wakes up after being given levodopa. Read morePublished 1 month ago by katarinaism