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A Fascinating and Moving Story
clawpack18 February 2005
Awakenings is the most emotionally moving film I have ever seen. It delves deeply into one of the worst human fears, losing the ability to move and function, but it's never forced or manipulative, and there's no heavy-handed message or moral. It's just a fascinating story that's beautifully told.

The acting is as good as you will ever see. Robert DeNiro deftly handles all the emotional and physical challenges of his role, and Robin Williams demonstrates convincingly that he is an actor, not just a comedian. Williams is perhaps a bit too nerdy at first, but he captures perfectly all the hope, fear, exhilaration, and anguish that a doctor in that situation must be experiencing. Awakenings is based on actual people and events, and, to me at least, real events are always more powerful than even the best fiction.

Awakenings had big-name talent and Oscar nominations, but I don't think it ever had a big box office or became a popular video rental. That's a shame. I like escapist fare as much as the next guy, but once in a while, everyone should see a movie that you will remember and think about for a very long time. Awakenings deserves to be at the top of your list of movies to see.
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Robin Williams Should Do Films Like This More Often
soranno25 October 2002
"Awakenings" is a positively surprising career change of pace for its two leads, Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro. Based on a true story, the film is about the experimental drug invented by Dr. Oliver Sacks (Williams) and how it successfully awakened many paitents from catatonic states which had lasted as long as 30 years. DeNiro gives an especially moving performance as one of the paitents who also turns out to be one of the drug's biggest success stories. It's a real shame how overlooked this film turned out to be for Williams' career. He should be getting praised for his quality dramatic performances in films that matter like this one rather than for his inferior comedies. This film proves that Williams can successfully expand his range and be a great dramatic actor. The same goes for DeNiro and his performance here as well.
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Extraordinary Film
~dulcinea~17 December 1999
This is a stunningly beautiful and profoundly moving journey, and, amazingly, based on a true story. I never tire of watching this movie; it was one of my all-time favorites. DeNiro's performance totally blows me away every time. And Robin Williams is wonderful as Dr. Sayer. Even simply remembering the movie by reading others' reviews here is once again giving me chills and putting tears into my eyes. After seeing this movie I also became a huge fan of Dr. Oliver Sacks' writing and recommend it to anyone, especially those who enjoyed "Awakenings." His case studies are fascinating. An excellent movie. Do yourself a huge favour and see it.
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A wonderful and touching film
gates1706 December 2006
It's a tale about a doctor(Robin Williams) taking on a new job in the Bronx. His new patients are something of the unusual. A handful of them share an unexplainable disease. The rare disease has left these people frozen in time. One of his main patients is a man named Leonard Lowe, played by Robert Deniro. Doctor Sayer begins a diligent study. To the present day, there are still many questions surrounding this strange disease. During one amazing season in the late 60's, a miracle happened.

In my opinion, both Robin Williams and Robert Deniro should have won Oscars for this film. I always say that Williams with a beard equals an amazing performance. His role as the meek Dr. Sayer is heartwarming. He plays perfectly off Deniro's character. Robert Deniro is golden as Leonard, the disease afflicted patient that gives all of his consciousness to help Dr. Sayer. With the help of a large dose of medicine and care all the patients and hospital staff have awakenings.

One of the most important words spoken in the film is: LEARN.

This film teaches me to appreciate life a little more every time I see it. It hopefully sends us the message to enjoy life. To love and embrace what we have and perhaps learn not to take the natural joys in life for granted is the message.
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poetic_dreams3 September 2003
Besides when I was a child, I never actually cried during a movie. I've felt the urge to cry during some of them or had tears forming in my eyes, but they never really came out. Before I viewed "Awakenings," "Schindler's List" was the closest one to making me cry. Now, "Awakenings" has done it.

Another great thing about "Awakenings," is that it truly teaches us to appreciate the simple things in life that we take for granted, from taking a walk by yourself or reading a book or even just brushing your teeth.

I don't care what anyone says, both Robin Williams' and Robert DeNiro's performances were excellent and touching. I found this more touching then "Patch Adams." (But I guess "Patch Adams" is more of a Comedy/drama).

Give this great film a try. Grab the Kleenexs during Robert De Niro's first dance.
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daswitzer19 July 2000
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of the best movies I have ever seen. It tore my heart out more than once and I cried a bucket of tears. I watched it 3 times in a row the first time I rented it. I recommended to others and everyone loved it. I have never admired Robin Williams more in a role. He was fabulous. Robert DeNiro, absolutely blew me away. I love him in all of his roles, but this was superb acting at it's very best. Ruth Nelson as the mother played a heart-wrenching role. Penelope Ann Miller was so sweet. When Leonard's mother walked into his room and he first spoke to her, I actually sobbed. It was beautiful. The saddest part was that this movie was true and Leonard and all of the other patients are in the same condition now that they were then. I only wish that I knew what ever became of all of them. If this story would have been fiction, I would not have enjoyed it half as much. Only true life can be this sad.
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What An Incredible Story!!
ccthemovieman-120 March 2006
Here's a good example of how you can still make a great modern-day movie without profanity, violence or sex.

This is an amazing story, based on fact, about about a doctor who makes great progress fighting an illness that heretofore was considered incurable. These were patients in catatonic states, and the good doctor uses an experimental drug to snap these people back to reality and to a normal life as they once had. The patients, and how they react, both before and after the medications, is really fascinating.

Robert De Niro is outstanding as one of the patients, but that's not a surprise knowing all the fine acting performances he's done over the years. Robin Williams, relatively new to dramatic acting when this came out, was also excellent in a very low-key role. Penelope Ann Miller is extremely sweet and appealing. I wish both she and Williams would do more roles like that.

With multiple viewings, I came to appreciate the minor characters in here a lot more, such as De Niro's mother, played by Ruth Nelson, whom I fondly remember in the 1945 film "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn." What a treat is was to see her again and this was just two years before she died. Also, Alice Drummund as the patient known as "Lucy" was notable.

Language-wise, i's almost stunning to watch a movie which has De Niro, Williams, Miller and John Heard and not hear one profane word uttered! (The film isn't perfect, however, as some idiot decided to insert one f-word, and in a totally unnecessary circumstance.)

This is a memorable story and one I guarantee you won't forget because the subject matter is so different.
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A great film.
Peach-216 November 1998
Penny Marshall's Awakenings is a very emotional movie and heartwarming to say the least. Marshall has out done herself with this picture. The movie is a masterpiece. Robin Williams is great and Robert De Niro should have won the Oscar for his performance in this movie. De Niro hits every note perfectly and shows why he is the greatest actor of his generation. The movie is well written by Steven Zaillian and Penny Marshall did a super job. Bring a hankerchief to this one.
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Can someone please tell me WHY??
elle5540726 February 2005
Can someone please tell me WHY Penny Marshall never received an Academy Award nomination for this? This is an excellent movie. A truly great film. My opinion? DeNiro's best role to date. He was superb. While I loved "Schindler's List," I think DeNiro's role by far out muscled Liam Neeson as an Oscar contender. (No disrespect to Neeson intended.) But I'm still disappointed over that one.

Robin Williams was wonderful, as well. As was Julie Kavner. Can't believe we never saw much of her after this role. She's a definite talent. Excellent casting by Marshall.

For anyone out there who hasn't seen it, RUSH to your video store TODAY! It's truly one of those "Don't Miss" films. It will definitely give you some life perspective.

As for Ms. Marshall - I believe one of these days, we are going to be seeing an Oscar with her name on it. "Best Director!" She gives all women in film something to strive for.
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Tito-813 June 1999
Simply put, this is one of the greatest movies ever. This is easily the most powerful tearjerker that I've ever seen, thanks in large part to the brilliant performances by Williams and De Niro. But to be fair, the whole cast was excellent, and they were helped by a script that was nearly perfect. For me, the scenes with Miller proved to be the most emotional, but really, the whole film was heartwarming or heartbreaking on some level. I don't tend to get emotional when watching movies, but this film managed to find a way into my heart, and I can't possibly recommend this movie enough to those of you who haven't been lucky enough to see it yet.
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formula feel good tear jerker drama
filmalamosa4 November 2012
Being a psychiatrist I was able to evaluate this movie more accurately than most. It gives a simplified and exaggerated but basically accurate account of using a new drug (at the time--1969) to help neurologically seized up patients. The ward looks just like the one I worked on for years at a State Mental Hospital, even the same design of 50's furniture.

The movie is several steps above a Lifetime Television production (which it resembles). Another reviewer said that De Niro was hamming his performance... NO. A dopamine compromised or Parkinson's patient looks exactly like De Niro did only maybe worse.

The ending statement was a stupid platitude. Robbins says "the chemical has stopped working but the human spirit advances through friendships family blah blah blah..." what a lot of solace that would be to one of those patients.

In this movie one can see the provenance of Cocoon.

This movie should get about a 6.5 . Maudlin formula stuff but well done maudlin stuff. I gave it a 7.

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Words Would Not Describe How Breathtakingly Amazing This Film Is...But I'll Try
moinsyyed18 February 2007
I only have a handful of films i could submit as massively underrated & this would be one of them. I found myself lost for words talking about this film because they are just not enough. What i will say is that if you believe 'raging bull', 'godfather 2' or any other other film by deniro are his best performances then BOY WERE YOU WRONG! & i totally resent the statement Kate winslet made in her guest appearance in 'extras' series 1 about disabled peoples portrayal in film getting the actors an Oscar, which this film totally disproves (sadly).

'Rain man' can move over, because this truly is a worthy masterpiece that should have really got the Oscar.Deniro always seems to be typecast as a 'tough-guy' or 'wise guy' & this film goes some way to showing that he isn't all about 'that'.This film also shows us that he has one of the best smiles in Hollywood and is just one minuscule element that makes this film so endearing. Robin Williams & Robert Deniro are Hollywood's greatest actors and this may be the only film you'll see them in together, so go out and get this on DVD (its cheap!) Bare in mind that despite the films early slow pace, you'll find yourself never wanting this film to end as you draw closer to its conclusion, Deniro gives the performance of his life & i wish the Oscar film board had a resubmission/review board to correct there past mistakes/injustices so that i could fill them up in a room with this on screen & watch there faces as they walked out after watching it begging for forgiveness for not awarding it the Oscar!
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An often forgotten but brilliant film!
tallguy6218 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
How many "true stories" has Hollywood been able to really pull off and do it well? Hats off to the producers, writers and the wonderful Penny Marshall for making this film. I cannot say enough about this movie that is positive. The characters are likable, human beings that everyone from every age group can relate to. The set decorations were wonderful. The acting was flawless and the directing very poignant.

Robert DeNiro was snubbed by the Academy for no good reason whatsoever. I have never, ever seen him give a finer performance than he does here. Obviously, when given the right story and script, DeNiro is one of Hollywood's greats. Unfortunately, he tries to do too many movies and most of them are either duds, or he plays the same gangster character over and over again. Only in this movie and just a few others do we see his true acting ability.

Robin Williams, as usual, is nothing if not charming. He was able to make the viewer believe he was that character.

This really is a great movie for the whole family, though I admit it is sad!!
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Excellent tear dropping drama
barrys8216 September 2007
Such a great movie, no wonder why in the 90's it deserved some Oscar nominations. A touching, emotional and inspiring story about a shy doctor with no life that arrives to the chronic hospital in the Bronx to work with post-encephalitic patients, there he meets Leonard a man who's been catatonic for nearly 30 years.While he helps Leonard to restarts his life he began to learn how live his own. The plot is totally convincing and very well developed. The directing was great, Director Penny Marshall did a great job with a very simple view of how's the life of that kind of patients and of the people around them with a very good movie rhythm that flows perfectly and never bores you. The cast is simply excellent, having a pair of actors like Williams and De Niro together in the same film its just worthy. Robert De Niro's performance was flawless, there's no doubt that it was an Oscar nomination role, Robin Williams was also great as Dr. Malcolm Sayer, one of his best performances ever. The secondary roles from Penelope Ann Miller, Julie Kavner, John Heard and Ruth Nelson were very good and gave the necessary support to the movie. This was a enjoyable and tear dropping movie that touches the deepest region of your heart and soul and it will make you appreciate the simple things in life. Recommendable for everyone.
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an excellent film, a real lesson for life
emil_therapper4 September 2007
It has been a long time since i saw this movie, but i enjoyed it just as well!!! It's absolutely fantastic! Robert De Niro did an astonishing job, and i won't even mention the great Robin Williams! So, i last saw it last night, and i couldn't believe it...i had tears in my eyes...and believe me, that doesn't happen very often! If you ask me, this movie comes to show (once again) what a truly good actor can do, and that is, he can bring the movie to life, make you fell the happiness, the pain, in one word...he can take you with him on the set! I strongly recommend this film to anyone who can truly understand the concept of "film"! I'll end with this advice: see this movie and make a strong comment, first of all, in your heart and in your life!
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One of my all time favorites...
jjsamuel4 July 2006
Certainly in the top 15 or 20 of my all time favorite movies!! This movie will move you from joy to sadness to joy to sadness. I remember this film for being one of Robin Williams' first serious dramatic roles. It certainly showed us all what a talented actor (and comedian) he can be if given the right role to play. I feel it is his best "serious" dramatic performance. And, again Robert DeNiro proves that he can play just about any part and nail it. To be frank, it is casted very well overall. It is also a somewhat nostalgic movie, and you feel it with the older cars and clothes, TV's and music on the radio. It is a movie worth owning, and I plan to own it when I find it on DVD. See this film--you will not be disappointed!
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A marvelous true story comes to an awakening..
Mukarram Dhorajiwala18 August 2009
After watching this movie i can't stop thinking that there are so many untold true and moving stories which can really impact your perspective towards life.

The problem remains that many of these true stories may have happened with a few bunch of people or to a minuscule portion of the society.And the rapid changes conditioned upon this society that such touching incidents are veiled and have to wait for the eventuality of a writer like Oliver sacks to bring it back to life through his book of the same name.

Here is a movie of belief and hope that will lift your spirits no matter what you have experienced in life.I was in tears as i watched how unfair life can be.Robin Williams has portrayed Dr.Sayer with true conviction, and Deniro's performance is commendable.Penny Marshall has done a tremendous job directing this Drama.

I strongly recommend this to everyone.

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20 years strong
reneweddan11 October 2010
Robin Williams and Robert De Niro are amazing in this film, both gained popularity and somewhat lessened, but this film shows them at their finest.

The story is based on the memoir by Oliver Sacks who found treatment for encephalitis lethargica, which was an epidemic during 1917-1928.

The story is not as I expected, it always had something new and interesting, and when I thought I knew the direction of the film, suddenly it changes.

Even 20 years later, this film is as strong as ever. It's an amazing story, both tragic, yet in a way redeeming. There are messages in the film, all of which are positive, but only due to the evident negativity of their situations.

If you're interested in a movie film that is both thought-provoking and historical, then you're in for more than you bargained for. Do be warned that it is somewhat hard to swallow, so don't expect a popcorn Friday, more like a movie for laid-back Sunday to motivate you for the next week to come.
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To Be Alive
darosslfc13 July 2015
Awakenings follows the story of two men and their will to never give up. Leonard Low (Robert De Niro) fell victim to an encephalitis epidemic at a young age and has been left in a catatonic state for thirty years. His new doctor, Malcolm Sayer (Robin Williams) is determined to to find a cure that will revive his patients.

A new drug, L-Dopa, offers hope to the patients. Dr. Sayer ignores the criticisms of his more pessimistic colleagues and drives forward with the drug. During the summer of 1969 the patients of Dr. Sayer awaken and come back to the present after being frozen in time. Led by Leonard the group starts to enjoy life to the fullest.

Robert Di Niro and Robin Williams give one of their best performances in this film. Di Niro in particular must have done a lot of research for his role to get down the symptoms of his ailment. Steven Zaillian (Schindler's List) penned this beautiful script, his second screenplay, and director Penny Marshall (A League of Their Own) brings the story to life.

Unfortunately good things don't last forever, and the L-Dopa cure fails to work over time. Leonard and Dr. Sayer both fight this fact, but they have to come to terms with the limitations. This doesn't detour Leonard in the end though and he is happy to have experienced life again. It is heartbreaking experience, but Dr. Sayer takes Leonard's words to heart and chooses to be alive.
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"I know it's not 1926, I just need it to be"...
calvinnme2 March 2013
... is just one of the many quotable quotes in this film that will stick with you. This one is one of my personal favorites and just about as perfect as modern (post 1970) movie making gets. The messages and comparisons of the film are rather obvious, but the individual scenes, the characters, and the acting are superlative.

Malcolm Sayer (Robin Williams) is a complex individual - he's a physician - a healer of men - who is scared to death of all mankind. In fact he seems to be scared of all living things including a friendly neighborhood dog. He's gotten away with pure research positions up to the present, but now, in 1969 and in need of a job, he takes a job as a physician in a chronic care hospital. Now here's the complexity - You'd think a man who is afraid of other people would just sit back and perform his rounds and be grateful to be around patients who are as physically catatonic as he is emotionally catatonic. However, his humanity and intellectual curiosity are stronger than his fear and desire to hide as he begins to notice "patterns" in both the behavior and in the records of some of his patients that makes him believe that they may still be "alive inside". This leads to research that pinpoints one illness that all of the patients had in common - encephalitis lethargica that spread worldwide from 1917 to 1928. After the illness subsided, sometimes years later, would the catatonia gradually set in.

Dr. Sayer manages - with great difficulty - to get funding to try a new drug on these particular patients, and they awaken, some after 40 years, many in their 60's physically, but in their 20's emotionally.

The focus of the movie, though, is on the friendship that forms between Leonard Lowe (Robert DeNiro), a 50 year old victim of the disease, and Dr.Sayer. Leonard's mother (Ruth Nelson as Mrs. Lowe) is one of the few people visiting on a regular basis after all of these years - Leonard has been here for 30 years, ill since age 11, catatonic since age 20. So the focus is on Leonard's love of life once awakened versus Dr. Sayer's fear of it - this is the obvious part of the film. However that doesn't take anything away from De Niro doing a great job of playing someone who isn't a tough guy for a change and from Robin Williams from playing one of his most dramatic roles, both characters extremely vulnerable in their own way. Julie Kavner is pitch perfect as Dr. Sayer's loyal ,hard working, and assertive nurse and assistant. Ruth Nelson gives a performance of a lifetime, just two years before her death, as a mother who has dedicated her life to a son she remembers as and has cared for as a child for almost 40 years but is a bit perplexed when he awakens as a man and his fancy turns towards love. For once she has a rival for her son's attention, which is not unusual. What is unusual is that she has to deal with this 30 years later than most mothers.

There are heartbreaking scenes, there are funny scenes, and one scene in particular that brings to light how people sometimes will dismiss something as possible because it just seems too horrible. My favorite scene in this latter category: Dr. Sayer, when doing his research on the catatonic patients, visits the eminent physician Dr. Peter Ingham (Max Von Sydow). Ingham was dealing with the catatonia when it first developed in the 20's and 30's. When Dr. Sayer asks Dr. Ingham how he knows that the virus has not spared the patients higher faculties he responds: "Because the alternative is unspeakable." Classic.
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A stunning film, must-see for all 9 out of 10
filmbay21 July 2008
Director Penny Marshall's Awakenings is being promoted as a "hurrah for the handicapped" movie, but it's much more than that. Derived from an account published in 1973 by neurologist Oliver Sacks, this too-strange- not-to-be-true story is magical because it doesn't really try to be - as Dr. Malcolm Sayer (Robin Williams), the miracle-working character based on Dr. Sacks, says, "We have to adjust to the realities of miracles." The realities, as dramatized in Steven Zallian's script, are these: In 1969, Dr. Sayers accepts employment at a chronic-care hospital in the Bronx and is mysteriously drawn to a group of catatonic patients referred to as "living statues." Convinced that the patients are cognitively and emotionally alive, despite their external fossilization (some have been immobile for more than 30 years), he investigates their histories. At first, he is stymied by the guesswork diagnoses on record - "atypical schizophrenia"; "atypical hysteria" - and mutters to his nurse (Julie Kavner), "You'd think at a certain point, all these 'atypical' somethings would amount to a 'typical' something." They do: Dr. Sayer discovers that the statues have in common an episode of viral encephalitis.

The miracle is this: Aware that the experimental compound L-DOPA has proved effective as a treatment for Parkinsonism, a disease Dr. Sayer believes resembles the condition in which his statues find themselves, he proposes using the drug on one of them, Leonard Lowe (Robert De Niro), a middle-aged man who began "disappearing" into brief episodes of paraylsis at the age of 11 and was permanently hospitalized nine years later, in 1939. When the drug "awakens" Leonard, Dr. Sayer asks for permission to prescribe it to the rest of his post-encephalitic patients.

At this juncture, Awakenings itself awakens - it sloughs off the "hurrah for the handicapped" genre and becomes a movie about the handicap of the human condition in general. Unfortunately, it's impossible to discuss what transpires next without giving the story away, but it can be reported that the subsequent events, for all their atypical specificity, become a blanket metaphor for typical human life (much of which is spent sleepwalking) - it's evident that Dr. Sayer was "mysteriously" attracted to the statues because he is one of them.

Marshall, director of Big and, in another life, Laverne on Laverne and Shirley, elicits performances from Williams and DeNiro that are exceptional. The former, who can't help being funny, is profoundly serious as the emotionally stunted physician unable to heal himself, and the latter, who can't help being serious, is profoundly funny as the emotionally open patient able to heal his physician. The two strong men are complemented by two stronger women, Kavner as the doctor's sympathetic nurse, and the aged Ruth Nelson (her career began in 1926) as the patient's patient mother. Awakenings is a small, simple movie about a large, complex issue, the waste of human opportunity. It could have been made by Thornton Wilder's Emily, who dies at the end of Our Town and from the cemetery exhorts the living to come fully alive. Benjamin MIller, Filmbay Editor
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De Niro's finest ever performance
Rhys Pye2 March 2013
This film is an outstanding film which any wannabe actor should watch & study De Niro's performance. He totally blows me away in this film and should have won the Oscar for it ( In my opinion) it is his greatest ever bit of acting and considering the incredible performances he has put in over the years this beats them all.

The film itself is fantastic and inspiring,it's a true story which makes it even more heartwarming and emotional to watch,I've watched it many times and each time the film gets to me. Robin Williams also puts in a stella performance.

I simply can not praise this film more & De Niro's performance shows why he is the greatest actor to ever be filmed
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You'd think at a certain point all these atypical somethings would amount to a typical something.
Spikeopath6 June 2009
The late 60s and post encephalitis patients are roused by various doses of the drug L-Dopa. But as the patients try to come to terms with the new and alien life they are brought into, side effects starts to rear its head.

I guess it depends on your emotional state how you absorb Awakenings as a motion picture. There are those that simply believe it's an exercise in currying sentimental favour, whilst others, such as myself, believe stories such as this need to be told. Based on the novel by Oliver Sacks {Malcom Sayer played by Robin Williams} the only real cause for grumble from myself is that sadly, the film fails to fully form the shock and terror these newly roused patients must have felt. The encephalitis epidemic occurred between 1917-1928, these people got old without knowing it. It's briefly touched on with a couple of tender moments, notably thru Alice Drummond's Lucy, but the main focus of the film, perhaps not surprisingly, is the relationship between Williams' Sayer and Robert DeNiro's Leonard Lowe.

DeNiro is on full Oscar baiting tilt here {nominated but lost out to Jeremy Irons for Reversal of Fortune} and it's a magnetic performance, tender and close to heart breaking at times. His interplay with Williams {suitably restrained} is what drives the film on, but as stated prior, at the expense of a fully formed whole. Still, director Penny Marshall and her team have gone the whole hog for the sentimental aspect, is it too forced? yes at times it is, but you would have to have been quarried from granite not to be affected by some scenes, re: a mother son reunion for example. So it's not quite the classic it not only threatened to be, but really should have been. But the central theme of learn and evolve is something that hopefully even the films detractors have taken on board.

Sweet and touching. 8/10
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TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews6 August 2007
I hadn't really seen any other movies by Penny Marshall before watching this. The only one I'm sure I've seen is Riding in Cars with Boys, and, well, if you've read my review of that one, you'll know I didn't think very much of it. Looking at her filmography, I think this is the best of the films she's directed, quality-wise. The plot is great, and very well-told. The pacing is pretty much spot-on. The acting is all top-notch. De Niro is astounding. My fiancée remarks that it made her forget the stereotypical "De Niro roles", Cape Fear's Max Cady and the various(and more often than not, interchangeable) gangster roles that he's played. Personally, I'd also say that Anthony J. Nici was a good choice for the young Leonard Lowe. I think he looks remarkably like him(right down to the mole... added or not), and he does fine acting, as well. Williams shows that he can make us feel, as well as make us laugh, once again. The music is really good, songs are well-chosen. The editing is very good throughout. Most of the camera-work is, as well, although the zoom-ins don't work in the least. Very engaging and sad film. I recommend this to any fan of drama and/or the actors involved. 8/10
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A true gem.
doc101427 March 2006
I saw Awakenings for the third time last night (since 1990). I dropped what I was doing when I saw it was coming on TCM because I've long thought it to be one of the very best films I've ever seen. Now I'm positive it is my's why:

1. It's about being alive: caring and looking for life in other people even when they seem asleep. Also it's about the fragility of life both physically and mentally/emotionally. This story, aside from being the true story of the discovery that L-dopa could release people from their apparent demented state, is a marvelous metaphor or allegory for all of us in some ways sleeping through parts of our life. The story may not have been intended as a modern morality tale, but it is even more germaine today than when it took place as science is prolonging life indefinitely. (I've spent a lot of time with critically ill and chronically ill people). More simply, to me it's a beautiful, bittersweet, yet life-affirming movie.

2. The casting is perfect! And the performances are out of this world: my favorites by DeNiro and Williams, both of whose bodies of work I greatly admire. Every character is a home run.

3. I'm no expert, but the combination of the directing, acting, editing and musical score and the visuals seem perfect to me. (As a musician I particularly appreciate the music).

There you have it...I can't understand the lack of acclaim for this movie and Penny Marshall the director. I was surprised that the average rating was below 8 on a site for movie buffs...they must know something I don't about movies... I could understand a "9" because the movie lacks a grand ending as far as entertainment goes, but it fits the honesty and grace of the film. SEE THIS FILM.
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