We flash back to 1972 and Fielding's intense relationship with Sarah, marked by romantic and political differences that feel far more real than the contrived oppositional arguments in most political movies. Then skip 10 years forward to find a sleeker, hollow-faced Fielding running for Congress, tormented not only by memories of Sarah but her actual or phantasmal appearances. Another film might play this as a paranoid mystery thriller, but this goes for psychology, and Crudup delivers an intense portrait of a man cracking up by the loss of his ideals as much as his life's love--climaxing in a terrific restaurant outburst to his needy, congratulatory family. Unreleased theatrically in the UK, this outstanding film has award-quality performances from Crudup and Connelly, both doing their best screen work to date.
On the DVD: The picture is presented in 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen, with Dolby Digital sound. You get the usual trailer, filmographies and puff piece featurette, but also three superb extras: a commentary from Gordon that passionately and intelligently addresses the thematic material and production circumstances of the film; a package of deleted scenes that goes well beyond the usual irrelevant snippets--everything here offers additional insights into the plot and character; tracks from the composers Tomandandy which play over the menus--a rare feature that's liable to become more common. --Kim Newman
Sue Johnston is wonderful as Dr. Grace Foley Ph.d. She is the profiler of the group and has a unigue insite which is described as a "way with the dead". Johnston portrays Foley as an intelligent, strong woman.
Holly Aird is Dr. Frankie Wharton M.D(pathologist). She is also a driven professional. She is brillant, but lacks person skills. In her search for the truth, she sometimes forgets about the human factor. Which Boyd reminds her of, occasionally. Aird also represents Wharton as intelligent and strong. She knows her job and is very protective of her territory.
Detective Constable Amelia Silver(Claire Goose) and Detective Sargeant Spencer Jordan(Wil Johnson) are the young police detectives who finish out the team. These two young actors bring a vibrant youthful quality to the show. The characters have an arrogance which young professionals often have. They have to be reined in by Boyd, especially Jordan. In a scene at a cemetary, Jordan contradicts Dr. Wharton's orders for exhuming a body. He is backed up by Boyd, but it turns out that Wharton is correct. It irked me that he would even dare to assume he knew more than Wharton.
This premiere episode brings to life several very different characters who have to form a working relationship. Throughout Series 1 and 2, those bonds become stronger, and eventually become friends.
I do recommend this movie. Coming from the US, we don't see good acting, writing and directing very often. It is very refreshing.
In 1982 a stunned Fielding Pierce (Billy Crudup) learns form the evening news that the woman he loves, Sarah Williams (Jennifer Connely) has been killed by a car bomb attack because of her involvement in opposing the corrupt government of Chile and U.S. involvement. We then go back to see how they first met, when he was serving in the Coast Guard, to avoid going to Vietnam, and she was the secretary for his brother, who is running some sort of counter culture magazine. He longs for a career in politics and she wants to bring down the system. Yet when Fielding says he wants to be president some day, she smiles because he clearly means it.
These two characters from Scott Spencer's novel are politically polarized and these differences only grow as the two fall in love. They take turns accompanying each other to important social functions at which the other one become an embarrassment, before Sarah goes off and gets killed for her beliefs. Ten years later Fielding is given the opportunity to run in a special election for a seat in the U.S. Congress, as the handpicked choice of the governor and his chief political hack (Hal Holbrook). This is the first step to what Fielding has wanted his entire life, only Sarah sees it as a betrayal. True, Sarah has been dead ten years at this point, but that does not stop Fielding from first hearing and then seeing her.
Is Fielding going insane, is he being haunted, or is this some sort of sick game? Good question, but do not ask me the answer because I watched the movie. It is hard to spoil a movie when you are not sure what really happened at the end, although I could hazard a guess. Ultimately, the politics clashes between Fielding and Sarah are more interesting than their romance. You have to wonder how their relationship would have ended if she had not died, because sooner or later one of them would have had to blink. One of the strengths of "Waking the Dead" is that both of them are right and you think that if only they could find a way to work together great things could happen.
"Waking the Dead" is one of those titles that has a double meaning, for it applies to Fielding as much as it does to Sarah. That sense of ambiguity pervades Keith Gordon's 2000 film and certainly explains why the ending is so open to interpretation. But for me it does not quite work in the end, although Fielding's scene in his Congressional office works much better than his dinner with his family. Still, this is an interesting film for those who like to see film that try to play with an audience's mind (and which should be avoid like the plague by those who did enjoy "Fight Club" or "Memento").
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