The Awakening (2011 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Nick Murphy|
|Produced by||David M. Thompson|
|Screenplay by||Stephen Volk
|Music by||Daniel Pemberton|
|Editing by||Victoria Boydell|
|Distributed by||StudioCanal UK|
|Running time||107 minutes|
|Budget||£3.1 million|
1921: England. Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall) is a published author on supernatural hoaxes who works with the police to expose charlatans and debunk supernatural phenomena, having begun her foray into her profession upon the death of her lover in World War I. Upon a visit from Robert Mallory (Dominic West), a teacher from a boarding school with the request to investigate the recent death of a student, Walter Portman, and to determine if and how it is related to sightings of a ghost of a child, she travels to the school hoping to explain the sightings and the death. The ghostly sightings are at first thought to be a prank played by one of the boys at the school. Florence deduces that one of the teachers was the last to see the boy alive and questions him until he admits to putting the young boy outside to "man up", thus scaring the young boy and causing him to have an asthma attack. The school is closed for half-term with the only occupants being Robert, Maud (Imelda Staunton) the housekeeper and Tom, a lonely child, who tells Florence his parents live in India which takes too long for him to travel to.
As Florence leaves, an unexplained hand reaches for Florence from a pond after which she faints and falls into the pond. Florence is rescued by Robert. Afterwards the characters clearly treat the incident as a suicide attempt. Florence recovers and hears another unexplained noise, and becomes determined to put to rest supernatural apprehensions. Florence and Robert start developing a mutual attraction. More unexplainable supernatural events start to manifest and subsequently the story is unwound through revelations. Meanwhile, Florence keeps hearing a child's voice calling "Mawa Zee". Edward Judd (Joseph Mawle), the grounds keeper, earlier known to have a grudge against Robert for being a war hero, is jealous and attempts to rape Florence in the woods. Florence, assisted by the supernatural, accidentally kills him with the butt of his own gun. She stumbles back to the school and tells Robert, who then goes out to bury Judd and cover up the crime.
Robert is revealed to be able to see and communicate with some of his own ghosts. Tom is revealed to now be a ghost and was Florence's half brother. Maud is his mother, and Florence's childhood nanny. Florence and Tom grew up in the house that is now a boarding school. While Florence and Tom were young, their father became angry because his wife was yelling at him for hating Florence for the sole reason that she is a girl. Florence's mother is angry that her daughter and his bastard son are friends. In his drunken rage, the father grabs his gun and shoots his wife in the stomach. Florence runs out and tries to shield her mother from the killing blow, but as soon as she turns her head to listen to her mother telling her to run, her father shoots again, this time hitting her mother in the head. Florence runs into the servant's passages, terrified, as her father calls for his "little mousie", still holding the gun. In the passages, Florence ends up hiding with Tom, who had been playing with cards. When Florence's doll starts chiming a nursery rhyme, her father shoots through the wall and ends up hitting Tom, his beloved son. In his grief, her father puts the gun under his chin and fires, completely forgetting about Florence. Florence had blocked these memories of her childhood. Maud, who also sees Tom, explains that Tom is lonely and that he needs his family; Maud poisons herself and Florence, intending for their ghosts to join Tom. Florence, however, tells Tom that she will not be happy if she dies now and that she will always be with Tom. Tom then helps Florence by bringing her medicine to throw up the poison. Florence lives, but is no longer able to see Tom.
- Rebecca Hall as Florence Cathcart
- Dominic West as Robert Mallory
- Imelda Staunton as Maud Hill
- Lucy Cohu as Constance Strickland
- John Shrapnel as Reverend Hugh Purslow
- Shaun Dooley as Malcolm McNair
The film opened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 16, 2011, and was officially released November 11, 2011 in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It was released on home video January 29, 2013.
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 61% of 66 surveyed critics have given the film a positive review; the average score is 5.7/10. Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph rated it 4/5 stars and called it "a chilling ghost story plotted like a mystery." Scott Weinberg of Fearnet wrote that the film is a beautiful, satisfying, and concise ghost story with good performances, particularly from Rebecca Hall. John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter called the film "twisty and atmospheric", elevated above traditional horror films by the beautiful cinematography, rich setting, and strong performances. Rosie Fletcher of Total Film rated it 3/5 stars and called it creepy but predictable. Fletcher wrote that the visuals, setting, and ambiguity help to set it apart. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian rated it 3/5 stars and wrote that the film is "creepy and disturbing, but is let down by a contrived ending". Roger Ebert rated it 1.5/4 stars and wrote that the film "looks great but never develops a plot with enough clarity to engage us, and the solution to the mystery is I am afraid disappointingly standard." Peter Howell of the Toronto Star rated it 2/4 stars and called the film routine, rote, and "a waste of good atmosphere." Dennis Harvey of Variety called it atmospheric but derivative. Harvey criticizes the ending as convoluted and disappointing, though the buildup maintains its promise.
- "The Awakening". Box office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
- Evans, Ian (2011), "The Awakening premiere photos – 36th Toronto International Film Festival", DigitalHit.com, retrieved 2012-01-10
- "Ghost story The Awakening premieres at the London Film Festival". The Daily Telegraph. 2011-10-26. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
- Barton, Steve (2012-12-19). "Have an Awakening on DVD and Blu-ray". Dread Central. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
- "The Awakening". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
- Collin, Robbie (2011-11-10). "The Awakening: review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
- Weinberg, Scott (2012-08-20). "FEARnet Movie Review: 'The Awakening' (2012)". Fearnet. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
- DeFore, John (2011-09-13). "Toronto Film Review: The Awakening". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
- Fletcher, Rosie (2011-11-07). "The Awakening". Total Film. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
- Bradshaw, Peter (2011-11-10). "The Awakening – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
- Ebert, Roger (2012-08-29). "The Awakening". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
- Howell, Peter. "The Awakening review: Things that go blah in the night". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
- Harvey, Dennis (2011-09-12). "Review: 'The Awakening'". Variety. Retrieved 2013-12-10.