Awakenings (1990)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA, 1990.  Columbia Pictures Corporation, Parkes/Lasker productions.  Screenplay by , based on the book by . Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , .  

Dr. Oliver Sacks’ autobiographical account of his years dealing with comatose patients makes for absorbing viewing in this touching, intelligent film. Sacks (Robin Williams) is presented with a room full of patients who all suffered during an encephalitis epidemic and fell into comas from which they have yet to awaken. Sacks’ research provides the possibility of a medication that will awaken them, though what happens next is impossible to imagine.

Robert De Niro is excellent as one patient who is revived to the world around him and decides to live it up as much as he can, just in case it doesn’t last.  Penny Marshall emphasizes personal triumphs and deep characterizations in place of the kind of schmaltz that would become more of a habit in Patch Adams, and it all works extremely well.

Academy Award Nominations:  Best Picture; Best Actor (Robert De Niro); Best Adapted Screenplay

Golden Globe Award Nomination:  Best Actor-Drama (Robin Williams)


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