Joby Harold Starring: Hayden Christensen, Jessica Alba, Terrence Howard, Lena Olin, Christopher McDonald, Sam Roberts, Arlis Howard, Fischer Stevens, David Harbour Distributed by The Weinstein Company Film is out now in the U.S. and will be released on Friday 4th April 2008 in the U.K. Review by Michael Edwards
rating: 1I'm pretty sure I won't be the only reviewer opening with this line, but seeing as how the makers of this film didn't care about originality I don't think I will: It's incredibly ironic that a film entitled Awake left a majority of the audience asleep by the end of it. This film is an unbearably boring affair that takes a vaguely interesting concept, tags on a laughable dramatic storyline and feeds it with some of the worst acting talent ever to grace the silver screen. The glimmer of hope that lies within the premise is the rare medical condition called "anesthetic awareness" where a surgery patient can feel each piercing cut of the scalpel blade, but is unable to move or speak. Those of you who managed to catch The Diving Bell and the Butterfly will know that there is a raft of filmic techniques that can poignantly bring alive the experiences of those poor souls who suffer such misfortunes, a well-delivered internal monologue and some cleverly constructed camerawork can draw the viewer into the frustrating inner turmoil held up on screen. Sadly, Awake suffered from two major flaws which prevented such audio-visual splendor: Hayden Christensen and an excruciatingly uninspired and frankly farcical dramatic subplot. The basis is the stupidly named Clayton Beresford, Jr (Christensen) is a high-flyer in finance, having inherited his father's investment firm he now commands great financial wealth, huge business acumen, masses of international respect and a beautiful fiancee (Jessica Alba). But sadly, he has a heart defect. I'm sure most of you can feel the tears welling up already but wait, it gets worse, his mother is really overprotective in a creepy Freudian way and won't accept that he wants a girlfriend. Plus, there are unforeseen rumblings of dastardly ploys below the surface of this tale. Curious? Well don't be, it's actually really stupid. The plot twists are hilariously contrived, and are mostly triggered by tenuous Scooby-Doo-esque clues that only the worlds greatest conspiracy theorists plus the unrealistic robodetectives of this woeful tale bother to look into. Worse still, in one instance these 'clues' are pieced together in a single montage scene which would embarrass even the worst whodunnit B-Movie directors of the 1950s. 'The fact that she knew the button on the coffee machine needed to be held down for a bit longer than normal instantly told me she'd been here before'... I mean seriously guys, come on!!! But lets stand back for a moment. Sometimes mediocre films can be salvaged by a decent cast, and even a badly scripted film can be turned around through improvisation and a strong screen presence - so there's hope!.... Oh, wait. No. It's a common statement in Hollywood that, for all her charm and good looks, Jessica Alba can't act. Right? So surely with her in a lead role you'd want her accompanied by a dynamic figure, one whose voice can convey the terror and trauma of feeling every incision of a surgical procedure through emotion-infused voice-over. Right? So why oh why would you think 'I know! Let's cast the second most wooden guy in Hollywood, (after Josh Hartnett - he's pitiful, I don't care what anyone says), and plus he's been in the Star Wars prequels, that's perfect experience for playing a traumatised rich kid undergoing surgery.' I really feel like I understand the thought processes of serial killers better than I could ever comprehend what was going on in the minds of the writers and casting directors of Awake. Do I need to summarise? I think not. But I will add one thing: you may have heard that Jessica Alba does a 'nude' scene. This is true. But frankly, for the hour and a half of uncomfortable writhing either side of this single moment of visual pleasure it's really not worth it. Just do an image search online, it'll be up somewhere.
rating: 1AWAKE is out in the States now, and hits the UK on Friday 4th April. Take cover!!
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