"White Awake" is the passion project of British filmmaker Alex Kyrou, who wrote, directed and edited this thoughtful tale of a young man looking back on his boyhood with feelings of crippling guilt. Hensley Lloyd Bennett's performance as Joshua, the adopted only child of a middle-aged English couple, is deeply affecting, cutting close to the bone while revealing a suffering soul in desperate need of healing.
The movie's title is reflective of the fact that Joshua is black, his parents, white. However, Kyrou does not make this dynamic the thrust here. His message is more universal-that family is not about skin color, race or heritage, but rather is involved with belonging, nurturing and connecting. That for each of us, family is of our heart, and not the physical shell which harbors it.
Meryl Griffiths is equally splendid as Joshua's psychiatrist. Her soothing voice and comforting demeanor combine exquisitely to help her patient recognize an eternal truth-that we are not personally responsible for the choices and behavior of others. No matter how dearly we may love and care about them.
Composer Paul O'Brien's strings-rich score for "White Awake" provides poignant instrumental accompaniment, heightening the film's prevailing emotions of both pathos and compassion. But, ultimately, inspiring a redeeming sense of hope.
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