Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Writer/Director, Gaelle Mourre for allowing me access to an online screener of her 20 minute, Drama/Fantasy short “Awakening”. Since the beginning of time, god has employed saints to oversee the mortal world and keep things in order. One day god decides to fire all of his saints, so at headquarters (a crypt in another world), Saint Margaret (played by Tracy Wiles of EastEnders) is at a crossroads and for the first time in centuries, forced to make a decision about her future. The film also stars Mark Edel-Hunt, Joan Walker, Harry Livingstone, Trevor Nichols and David Whitney. I have to confess that I’m an atheist and given its subject matter, Awakening isn’t the type of film I’d go seeking out. However, in this case it was Gaelle that was kind enough to reach out and ask if I’d be interested in watching and reviewing the film.
From the opening frames of Awakening, you can immediately tell the kind of quality you’re getting. The cinematography is unbelievably slick and quite cinematic, which increases the overall production value exponentially. The framing is precise and the variation in shot choices make this one a splendid watch. I love the opening footage that progresses from a still shot of Margaret and pulls back smoothly, eventually revealing the immense space that she occupies. There’s a brief sequence where Mourre opts for an effective aerial shot, followed by a close up from a characters foot, really great stuff. The audio track and dialogue are loud and clear and there’s clever use of muted sound during a conversation between Margaret and a co-worker. Mourre’s setting is probably the highlight of the film because it’s a gorgeous location, fully explored by the warm mood lighting and the settings for its scenes. Daniel Michalos’s editing is neat and stylish and the length of the short is ideal. The films score is pretty faint but occasionally some electric sounds ring through and they’re good. Toward the end there’s a unique cover of “When The Saints Go Marching In”, performed with a sort of Spanish flare and I enjoyed that. The key here is a genuine and straight performances for lead actress, Tracy Wiles. The supporting cast, namely Hunt and Walker, are valuable additions as well.
Aside from a few soft shadows across Tracy’s face, probably due to one or two scenes that are perhaps a fraction dark, the technical features are faultless. On several occasions Margaret can be seen looking at footage on a monitor, now I can only assume it’s of her “charges” (so to speak). I’m presuming each saint is responsible for overseeing x amount of individuals, hence the monitors. The problems with that is there’s no conceivable way to track people’s activities a hundred percent of the time. I guess you have to suspend disbelief and see the monitors as just a material commodity that shows the audience how saints do what they do. I understand that using CG to depict their supervision costs money but that would be the most authentic way to do it. My only other question was surrounding the Lucifer character. I wasn’t sure if he represented Margaret’s subconscious, a kind of manifestation of her insecurities and doubts. If I recall correctly, none of the other characters acknowledged him or had a conversation with him during the film. Maybe it’s simply that I just don’t know the origins or specifics of it all and he really was anatomical, not sure.
I’ll be the first to admit that Gaelle Mourre’s, Awakening surprised me. This isn’t a subject matter I’d usually go for and it definitely hasn’t caused dramatic changes in my belief system (or lack there of) but it’s a damn fine film all the same. The production value is magnificent and the location lends itself perfectly to these kinds of themes. The camera work and editing are extremely proficient, the lighting sets the mood and the performances are all solid. I thought there were a couple of uncertain elements in regard to the Lucifer character (just my experience), as well as the manner in which the saints supervise things but other than that, Mourre’s film is a great one. I look forward to seeing her next project titled “The Feast”. If you want to know more check out the trailer for Awakening, along with the official website for her next film at http://www.thefeastfilm.com
My rating for “Awakening” is 7.5/10