Review: 'Awakened' searches for answers but finds only cliches

In the ill-conceived and poorly executed "Awakened," a young woman returns to her hometown to solve the mystery of her mother's death. Audiences will likely ponder a bigger mystery: why experienced actors — or for that matter, experienced moviegoers — signed on to the project.

If the ostensible thriller contained a single believable moment, let alone an ounce of suspense, its nonsensical final twist might be grounds for concern. But by the time the Man in Fedora Hat (as he's called in the credits) makes his final wordless appearance, any hope of finding meaning or coherence in the material has been long abandoned.

The screenplay, by Joycelyn Engle and Christopher M. Capwell, abounds in leaden dialogue and clichés. It revolves around Samantha (Julianne Michelle), who believes her mother was killed and who looks a bit deranged as she sets out to uncover the truth, a mission that she announces to nearly everyone she encounters. "I searched the Internet," she tells one person. "I can't find anything."

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There's nothing to be found in the forced, lifeless drama that unfolds, with its ample helpings of white light-bathed flashbacks and a cast that includes John Savage as Samantha's father and chief suspect; Steven Bauer as a funeral director; Sally Kirkland in a small, mostly pointless role; and Edward Furlong in certified-wacko mode.

Engle, who directed with Arno Malarone, has said she wants to empower women, but whatever ideas about victimhood and injustice she aimed to convey are lost in the risible muddle.



MPAA rating: None

Running time: 1 hour, 51 minutes.

Playing: At Laemmle's Music Hall, Beverly Hills.


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