Saturday, March 17, 2012

Candidate # 15

(September 2011)

OBSERVATION: Between 1914 and 1919 war and influenza have claimed more than a million lives in Britain alone.

CONCLUSION: This is a time for ghosts.

So author Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall, from The Prestige and Red Riding: 1974) tells us in her best-selling Seeing Through Ghosts, where she lays out her pragmatic belief in the non-existence of ghosts.
So what happens when she’s asked to visit a boys’ boarding school where a child’s ghost may very well haunt the halls?

Nick Murphy’s feature directorial debut, The Awakening, is, quite simply, an excellent and exquisite film, whose script (by Murphy and Stephen Volk) has a welcome and surprising layer of emotion that gives the piece added heft as the story unfolds (is there a ghost or isn’t there?) in its stately, paced manner.
And while we get the solidly reliable acting presences of Dominic West and Imelda Staunton here, the central performance by Hall is the one that definitely impresses. It’s both a controlled and heart-wrenching one that anchors a film about the longing the living have for the dead (and vice-versa), and about the different kinds of guilt that haunt the quick.

It’s a worthy companion piece to films like El Orfanato and The Others and The Sixth Sense.
And yes, I’m aware that’s high praise indeed.

Parting shot: Stephen Volk also had his hand on the screenplays of the late Ken Russell’s awesome Gothic, William Friedkin’s interesting The Guardian, and Pen Densham’s not-so-awesome The Kiss.

(The Awakening UK quad courtesy of

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