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By opening one man's eyes to the world... he opened his own. Robert De Niro (in an Oscar(r)-nominatedperformance) and Robin Williams star in this powerful, true story of a maverick doctor and the patients whose lives he changes. Williams plays Dr. Malcolm Sayer, a shy research physician who uses an experimental drug to "awaken" the catatonic victims of a rare disease. De Niro co-stars as Leonard, the first patient to receive the controversial treatment. His awakening, filled with awe and enthusiasm, proves a rebirth for Sayer too, as the exuberant patient reveals life's simple but unutterably sweet pleasures to the introverted doctor. Encouraged by Leonard's stunning recovery, Sayer administers the drug to the other patients. The story of their friendship during this emotional journey is atestament to both the tenderness of the human heart and the strength of the human soul.
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During my quest to collect all of Robin Williams' work I have gone from an avid fan that truly believed this guy could not be in a bad movie to realising that he defiantly can. But never the less I persevere through his back catalogue and hope that I never again come across stinkers like "seize the day". I was trying to avoid seeing "awakenings" because I thought it was going to be another "seize the day".
First impressions from the poster and the trailer were not looking good I thought that this film looked terrible. But then I noticed that the film is directed by Penny Marshall "I know that name" I thought to myself, so I looked her up. Turns out she was the director of two of my all time favourite films `big' and `jumpin' jack flash' so with a new optimism I popped the dvd in the player and curiously watched as to what Penny Marshall had come up with this time.
Loosely based on a book by real-life neurologist Oliver Sacks, `Awakenings' marked the high point of a successful side career for Sacks as a chronicler of unusual medical case histories.
The film often displays the easy sentimentality typical of director Penny Marshall, which makes you feel quite warm and fuzzy. The plot is pretty typical in the sense that it pitted its heroes against mindless hospital bureaucrats in a tired effort to force a obligatory antagonist into the story, but because the film is based on true events, this plot device doesn't seem too over blown (as it so often can do in films).
The performances of stars Robin Williams and particularly Robert De Niro make it a very interesting film to watch. Cast against type, the two pros sink their teeth into their roles, Williams, as a shy genius and De Niro as a man with a teenager's mind betrayed by a collection of physical tics and twitches.
Apparently so comfortable was Williams in the doctor role that he repeatedly returned to it and played healers in numerous later films, including NINE MONTHS (1995), Good Will Hunting (1997), What Dreams May Come (1998), and Patch Adams (1998).
For me, De Niro was just a perk to this film for I watched it for Williams, I don't know why but Williams seems to do some of his best work playing a doctor and this film is no exception. But inevitably, when comparisons to `patch adams` and `good will hunting` are made `awakenings` will always end up at the bottom of the pile.
Well worth watching ! !
Using a new experimental drug he manages to awken Leonard Lowe (Robert DeNiro), who he befriends, and then all of the other patients. But is enough known about this wonder drug ?
Whilst trying to teach his patients the joys and pains of living, Dr Sawyer quickly learns that he is out of touch with his own emotions.
This is not an edge of your seat action film, but you will remained glued to the set. Yet another DeNiro gem and also one of Robin Williams finest roles. Very enjoyable, but might put a tear in the eye of some.
De Niro - as always - brings depth and reflection to his performance, but the true wonder is the acting by Williams.
There is little more to add than RIP Robin - may you be happy, wherever you are.