Dir.: Nick Murphy
With: Rebecca Hall, Dominic West
‘The Awakening’ came as a very pleasant surprise. It is a classic ghost story with a somewhat feminist twist. Rebecca Hall (gawwd I love her!) plays Florence Cathcart, a well-educated writer and part-time ghostbuster from London in 1921. She is inquisitive, charming and extremely likable from the start. The main part of the film takes place at a boarding school for boys where one of the students had suffered a seemingly supernatural death. At first, Florence is sceptical and applies all her intellectual abilities to unshroud the mystery. Slowly, her confidence and courage seem to diminish, as the school appears to hide more than one secret.
Ultimately, this is a film about loneliness and loss, set in post-war Britain where over a million people died from influenza or the war. The main characters all seem to have been affected by this in one way or another. Dominic West in particular gives a good performance as a history teacher, still shell-shocked from the trenches. It is Rebecca Hall, however, whose performance should be noted; her Florence has the right balance of seriousness and fragility, making her more believable. I found myself very invested in her character. I foresee a big big future for her, I loved her in 'Vicky, Christina, Barcelona' and in 'The Town'. She also strikes me as someone who would be great on stage too. Yes, she is my girl crush.
And yet, ‘The Awakening’ is not perfect, there are quite a few unexplained and unnecessary plot twists. Certain moments were also very predictable and, for those who had seen ‘The Others’ and ‘The Orphanage’, a lot of this film would seem to be a mere pastiche of those famous works.. On the positive side, it is also highly atmospheric, convincing and beautifully shot. It won’t scare you out of your wits but it has the right amount of jumpy moments to have a laugh about later.