Saturday At The Movies: The Awakening

I don’t know about you, but I love the turn of the century British ghost story. Something about the big, gothic homes and the air of uncertainty. Our Marie Gilbert wrote about one of my favourites, The Others, not long ago. Released this past week is a kindred spirit to that film called The Awakening, featuring Rebecca Hall, one of the upcoming stars of Iron Man 3.

Check out the trailer and then read our review after the jump!

The-Awakening-2011-Movie-PosterIn The Awakening, Rebecca Hall stars as hoax exposer Florence Cathcart, who in the aftermath of World War I seeks to reveal charlatans claiming to talk to spirits of the departed. Florence is asked to visit a boarding school for boys, where one the students has died after supposedly seeing a ghost that has haunted the halls for years. While she hopes to prove otherwise, Florence is shocked by what she discovers.

Directed by Nick Murphy (also the co-writer), The Awakening was a very pleasant surprise. It received no major release in North Americas so I was a sceptical as to its merits when I sat down to watch, but I was immediately drawn into Florence’s story and why she is so determined to prove ghosts don’t exist. At the same time, by setting itself in post-war London, the film immediately demonstrates why so many people are eager to believe in the afterlife. It gives us hope that our family and friends who have passed on are alright and waiting for us on the other side.

The success or failure of The Awakening, which boasts a relatively small cast, is how engaged the audience can become with the lead. In the case of Rebecca Hall, she’s in almost every scene, so if you don’t like her performance early on, you’re likely not going to enjoy the film. However, that’s unlikely to an issue, as Hall is captivating on-screen. Best known for her role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, she literally runs the gamut of emotions throughout The Awakening, from determined truth seeker to wounded woman, and various points in between. The weight of this ghost story is on her shoulders, and she manages to carry it well.

The Awakening isn’t a perfect ghost story, mind you – the final half hour or so went off the rails for me as secrets are revealed, but more often than not, the film offers a solid display of spooky storytelling that definitely recalled The Others, which is good company to be keeping. If you liked that one, you’ll likely enjoy this.

The Awakening is now out on Blu-ray, DVD and VOD from eOne Entertainment

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