Awakenings

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Released 1990

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Movie Summary

Director:
Penny Marshall
Released:
1990
Rating:
PG-13

Awakenings follows Dr. Malcolm Sayer (Robin Williams) who discovers a new drug that can revive patients who have spent decades in a catatonic state. Leonard Lowe (Robert DeNiro) survived an epidemic of encephalitis lethargica that raged from 1917 to 1928, but the disease left him in a catatonic state. The drug L-Dopa awakens him but he must learn to adapt to a reality far different from the life he knew before his illness. He makes great strides and begins to fall in love with Paula (Penelope Ann Miller), but his improvement is short lived. Soon, facial and body tics begin to manifest as the drug's effects wear off. Leonard knows his time is limited and must decide to admit defeat or find his own form of triumph. The 1990 drama is based on the true story of British neurologist Oliver Sacks and his memoir of the same name. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, including best picture, best adapted screenplay and best actor for DeNiro's performance.

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Metacritic Score

  • 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    After seeing Awakenings, I read it, to know more about what happened in that Bronx hospital. What both the movie and the book convey is the immense courage of the patients and the ...

  • 80

    Los Angeles Times Peter Rainer

    As well-meaning and "sensitive" as Awakenings is, it never rises much above the level of a grade-A tear-jerker. It achieves most of its effects by tenderizing raw material into som...

  • 60

    The New York Times Janet Maslin

    Awakenings both sentimentalizes its story and oversimplifies it beyond recognition. At no point does the film express more than one idea at a time. And the idea expressed, more oft...

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Drama

Themes

Medical