Awakenings (1990)

Imagine almost every patient from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest couldn’t talk, and you got this movie.

Based on the true story, medical researcher Dr. Malcolm Sayer (Robin Williams) attempts to treat a group of patients who’ve laid comatose in a Bronx hospital for 30 years. Sayer prescribes an experimental drug, and it works. Robert De Niro co-stars as a patient unconscious since adolescence who must come to terms with life as an adult.

The story is your typical inspiring story, that somehow works, even though you don’t know how.

I had a problem with this film and it was that it was way too slow, especially in the beginning. The whole beginning is basically about Williams becoming this doctor in this psych-ward, but it never held my interest for as long as the 30 minutes had it. It starts slow and never really picks up the pace, except a couple of times.

Although I will say one thing about this movie, and that is that it is quite moving. Its a great and timeless story of this catatonic person who is finally being awakened after 20 years so of course its going to pull some heart strings. By the end of the film, there are some powerful scenes that make you think twice about these people, and the potential they have rather than just what they look like.

It just never got too touching and moving for me. Call me cold-hearted, call me what you will, but I just didn’t think the story of these handicapped people effected me as much as it could have, mostly cause it focuses on how crazy they actually are.

The one thing that brought me into this film was the two great performances from Williams and De Niro. Robin Williams is all laid back and at times I couldn’t but it, but then by the end of the film he started to win me over with his powerful performance. The one who surely knocks it out of the park is De Niro, who gives all these slight tics as this handicapped person, and it doesn’t feel put-on or a gimmick, it actually looks and feels real. I was more moved by the relationship these two had with each other cause every time they were on-screen together, their friendship felt genuine, and it worked the most.

Consensus: Awakenings has a similar story that is like plenty of other dramas of this nature, and does get a bit slow, but features two great performances that convey great deal of emotions that work in the films favor.



  1. Robert DeNiro wastes his career so badly now – except I am excited for “Machete” – I watch this and his classics and “Jackie Brown” and “Wag the Dog” and I just get upset…

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