Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sixth Sense Downton Abbey, or Thoughts on The Awakening

Rebecca Hall from The Prestige (2006) portrays Florence Carter, atheist, author and ghostbuster exposing charlatans in 1921 England in The Awakening (2011).  Moody and atmospheric, the movie is infused with a melancholy sense of loss, as if the nation and all the characters are still recovering from the psychic and emotional wounds of WWI.  Florence is invited to investigate a haunting/death at a boy’s school by Dominic West, Jimmy McNulty from The Wire, as Robert Mallory, a teacher haunted by his own memories of WWI and undiagnosed PTSD.  A ghost story wrapped in a murder mystery with high production values and lovely interiors and costumes, the movie goes slightly off the rails in the final third with the clever but obligatory twist ending.
There have been so many ghost movies involving children, El Orfonato (2007) immediately comes to mind, along with Nicole Kidman in The Others (2001) and especially the Grady Twins in The Shining (1980).  I do think it’s a little bit of a cheat; the death of a child, even a fictional child, is inherently tragic and fires off a series of emotions in the audience; it sets the stage and does the work of the storyteller with very little effort on the filmmaker’s part.
Also with Imelda Staunton as Matron, arguably most famous for her role in that movie franchise about the boy with the glasses (I did enjoy all her kitten plates), but check out her impressive IMDb page with over 90 credits and dating back to 1988.

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