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Awake
cast: Hayden Christensen, Jessica Alba, Lena Olin, and Terrence Howard

writer and director: Joby Harold

82 minutes (15) 2007
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Icon DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Barbara Davies
Clayton Beresford (Hayden Christensen) may be a sulkily handsome, wealthy young man, engaged to the beautiful Sam (Jessica Alba), but there's one thing he hasn't got: a healthy heart. He needs a new one, badly, along with the courage to stand up to his demanding, intelligent mother Lilith (Lena Olin).

On the night that Clay finally marries Sam, against his mother's wishes, a suitable heart donor is found, and he hurries to the hospital where best friend, surgeon Jack Harper, is waiting to perform the transplant. Apart from an argument with his mother, who wants her own pre-eminent surgeon to perform the op, things couldn't be going more swimmingly for Clay. Or could they?

Our unfortunate hero is about to experience at first hand a terrifying condition called 'anaesthesia awareness', in which the patient undergoing surgery is paralysed but still aware. And as the surgical team begin the complicated (and painful) procedure, unaware their conversation is being overheard, the horrified and powerless Clay learns he is the target of a lethal conspiracy and that everything he thought he knew about his friends and family was wrong...

Though there are some gruesome moments when the surgery starts, Awake is more thriller than chiller, with a slow-moving, slightly spacey feel to it. It plays so fast and loose with medical facts and procedures, at times it's difficult to suspend your disbelief. But if you can ignore that flaw and the occasional plot hole, it holds the interest until the credits, using misdirection followed by revelation to make not only Clay but also the audience constantly reassess what has gone before.

Christensen (Jumper, Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith) has never been one of my favourite actors, and here he has the thankless task of spending half his time lying flat on his back with his eyes taped closed while we hear him in voiceover but both he, and Alba (Fantastic Four, Dark Angel) make competent romantic leads. It's the deeper, subtler performances from Olin (Alias) as his complicated mother, and Howard (Iron Man) as his conflicted best friend, however, that give the film its emotional weight.

DVD extras: there's an audio commentary with the writer-director, a 'making of' documentary, a comparison between storyboard and film, bloopers, and seven deleted scenes.
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