From the Archive: Awakenings

Rest in peace, Robin.

We lead off our home video segment with the release of one of last year’s most emotionally powerful films: the Penny Marshall-directed film AWAKENINGS. AWAKENINGS details the work of a doctor, played to perfection by Robin Williams, who takes on the perplexing case of several people who have been in comas for several years, but still have functioning motor skills. They’re able to catch a falling pen, or play an odd game of catch by propelling a beach ball to one another. Williams formulates a potential cure for these patients that succeeds in drawing them out of their comas, but it may represent only a temporary triumph. The first patient to be drawn out of his perpetual slumber in played by Robert De Niro, who snared an Academy Award nomination for his work. De Niro does a fine job, but he occasionally lets the quirks of the character take a control of the performance. He forgets to let us see the person behind the facial tics and muscle spasms. It’s the work of Robin Williams that really carries the film, though he was denied his third Oscar nomination. His performance represents his most solidly mature work to date, as his embraces every aspect of his character and totally submerges himself in the role. His mind is continually working and Williams lets us see every internal and external struggle his character goes through. More than anyone else, Robin Williams is the heart and soul of an amazing piece of filmmaking.