Awakenings (1990)

DailyView: Day 200, Movie 284

Awakenings was a movie that I was aware of, but that I had never seen before which I find odd, being such a fan of the late, great Robin Williams. My guess is that, since this was such a departure of a role for Williams when it first was released, I was not ready to watch it. There was none of the typical Robin Williams chaotic energy that we were so used to in Awakenings so I did not watch it and it was one that sort of slipped away over the decades since.

This was really a film that showed the range of the actors, Robin Williams. He was more than Mork. He was more than Captain My Captain. He was an actor that could stand beside Robert DeNiro and not lose a step.

Awakenings was directed by Penny Marshall and featured both Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro in a true story of a doctor hired as a clinical physician at a local hospital in the Bronx where most of the patients were unresponsive and semi-catatonic. Dr. Malcolm Sayer (Williams) began to notice certain hints that made him believe that the patients were still inside these unresponsive shells and that there was a way to bring them back.

Convincing the head doctor (John Heard) was not easy, but Dr. Sayer was able to get approved the use of the experimental drug, usually used for Parkinson’s patients, on one patient, Leonard Lowe (Robert DeNiro). The drug led to the revival of Leonard from his 30-year catatonia and brought him back to life, a metaphorical ‘awakening.’

Williams and DeNiro are the backbone to this movie. Both are amazing performances with DeNiro scoring an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

There are many emotions scattered throughout the movie as we see more of the patients at the hospital awake after taking the drug and seeing how their lives were now in a world that was very different than when they originally caught their disease.

The movie shows just how important it is to cherish life and the time given to you. Life is too short and it will go by in a blink of an eye and you must take every opportunity to make your time worthwhile. This theme is ripe throughout the script and the characters in the hospital.

This was Penny Marshall’s middle film in her best period of her directorial career. Big came in 1988, Awakenings in 1990, and A League of Their Own in 1992. RIP Penny.

Awakenings is an emotional tearjerker and shows off the acting skills of two of our generations finest actors. If youhave not had a chance to see this, I would absolutely recommend that you do.

One thought on “Awakenings (1990)

  1. I saw the film at the cinema on its release and it really affected me. Its quite an emotionally brutal film and the cast are wonderful, and the music too. Haven’t seen it in many years though, possibly not since the VHS days which strikes me now as really odd. Think I’ll have to keep an eye out for it, thanks for giving me the nudge your post.

    Liked by 1 person

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