Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Awake

Awake
Starring:
Hayden Christensen, Jessica Alba, Lena Olin and Arliss Howard


Rated: R for language, an intense disturbing situation, and brief drug use
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: November 30, 2007 Released by: The Weinstein Company and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.

Awake is anything but its title and that's not good for any viewers, especially those in the health care profession.

First-time director and writer Joby Harold has made something so drab and absurd that will appeal to the most unattentive and somnolent.

But, this purported psychological thriller, which has a brief running time (yet doesn't wear it), centers around the notion of "anesthetic awareness". That considers how one's body doesn't take hold while being under, thus cognizant, yet trapped during some kind of medical procedure.

The one in question here is a heart transplant and Hayden Christensen's Clayton Beresford, kind of a young Donald Trump who has this experience after marrying the girl of his dreams, Samantha (Jessica Alba).

The lackluster story has something in common (spoiler alert!) with Malice starring Alec Baldwin and Nicole Kidman, if that matters. It tries to be cunning from its opening with a somber cardiologist, a rather subdued Terrence Howard of The Brave One, talking about Clay, whom have become friends as seen later fishing in New York's East River.

Lena Olin figures prominently as Clay's imperious mother Lilith who isn't happy to find out that her Oedipal son wants to settle down with Sam.

Awake tries to be taut from how Clay reacts to this "abnormal" condition, putting together information from his past which includes his dad's sudden death while wearing a Santa outfit.

But, Harold's methods are shrill and half-hearted, similar to some of the characterizations. Alba's character has an arc of sorts but either she is stranded by the nature of the story or displays little ability besides her photogenic and fashionable aplomb. There's hardly much of a spark with a callow Christensen, even in bathtub scene.

Christopher McDonald would rather be with that flask somewhere in his anesthesiologist's pocket and Arliss Howard probably with him as the pompous heart surgeon friend of Lilith.

The ultimate incision of Awake is one of sloppy splendor and paralyzed limbo that makes cast and crew look anesthesitized rather than aware of an excuse to be a part of such a heartless endeavor.

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