It’s not hard to see why they’re calling Gina Rodriguez like a mother protecting her children from a strange and unprecedented event that plunges the world into chaos. Sounds familiar?, will hit Netflix on Wednesday, next : The stars of the sci-fi thriller
The good news is that Awake is better than Bird Box, with characters that, for the most part, make logical decisions. Although the shocking moments of violence and blood seem confrontational and unnecessary, this witty and atmospheric action actor is well done and even manages to find a decently satisfying ending.
Rodríguez is Jill, a smart and capable ex-military mother who works the security night shift at a university. Past issues, such as stealing and selling expired “zombie” pills (which she still does), saw her lose custody of her children, Noah and Matilda, whose father died in the war, leaving the children to live with their grandmother. . .
Already deprived of sleep and napping in her car, Jill is not in the best of shape when a sudden catastrophic event around the world causes the power to go out and people to turn on: as in, they can no longer fall asleep.
Of course, Jill’s daughter, Matilda, is the exception, and once Jill awkwardly delivers this information to the wrong people, she and her children set off on the race to a new Wild West. It turns out that absolutely everyone gets terribly cranky when they don’t get their full eight hours.
Surprisingly, there is not a single shot of someone drinking a cup of coffee. We also do not see what is happening in the rest of the world, the lack of power eliminates the necessary news reports full of smoking buildings.
But that brings a ground-level rawness to events, and the sad cinematography by Alan Poon, a frequent contributor to Canadian independent director Mark Raso, subtly captures the threats looming over car windows or in the distance. A flock of naked sunset worshipers blocking a road is inadvertently funny and ominous.
When Raso’s action does not rely on cheap violence to increase tension and threat levels, he successfully produces frenetic emotions, especially in the beginning when a car accident triggers hysteria.
None of that would work without the warmth of Rodríguez, who is also an executive producer. His Jill is straightforward, straightforward, but also easy to connect, and fun, at least in a rare moment, where he’s going to smash a door with a brick before realizing it’s unlocked.
Overall though, that balance of bravery and warmth is a real struggle. Aside from some awkward attempts at humor (from other characters), Awake is relentlessly grim. Intimate moments are not a sufficient break from the depressing and desperate vision of humanity. If the idea was to fill our heads with the constant buzz of lack of sleep, then the score, cool cinematography, and dark tone capture that perfectly.
The few characters who show empathy always arrive just when the ugliness of this world seems like it will become too much. Finn jones, who plays a scientist, explains that people are losing their critical thinking twice as much as normal, and therefore crushing people’s heads is not entirely exaggerated.
While the emotional payoff isn’t exactly exciting, Awake is ultimately focused on keeping a small family alive, and that helps keep it landing. Don’t expect clear answers on how the hell people suddenly lose the ability to sleep, but Awake’s last note of hope makes this survival movie worthwhile.
Awake hits Netflix on Wednesday, June 9.
New movies coming out in 2021: Netflix, Marvel and more
See all photos