Director: Penny Marshall
Writer: Steve Zaillian
Starring: Robin Williams, Robert DeNiro
"Hello. My name is Leonard Lowe. It has been explained to me that I've been away for quite some time. I'm back." Based on the nonfiction book of the same name, Awakenings tells the true story of a doctor (Williams) and his decision to use a new drug in an attempt to cure a group of seemingly hopelessly catatonic patients. Leonard Lowe (DeNiro) is the initial test subject, and after some initial tampering with the dosage, it works incredibly well...for a while.
My sole criticism: Malcolm Sayer, Williams's character, is American. Oliver Sacks, his real life counterpart, is British. Why do such insignificant changes need to happen? That's like if Black Widow wasn't Russian in Iron Man 2 (oh, wait...). Anyway, besides that, it's a remarkable film. Williams's serious roles are always underappreciated, and this is no exception. DeNiro, much like Hugh Darcy in last year's Adam, stellarly portrays a victim of a disease with accuracy, and never for laughs at its expense. The writing is solid, the characters sympathetic...everything a good film should have. If it had one any of its three Academy Award nominations (Picture, Adapted Screenplay, and Actor--DeNiro), no one would have objected.