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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Wide Awake
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Miramax 03/98 DVD/VHS Feature Film

Many spiritual traditions acknowledge that we are more alive when actively involved with questing and asking questions. Both activities groom our souls. In this enchanting and extraordinary film, Joshua Beal (Joseph Cross) is about to enter fifth grade at a Catholic school for boys. Deeply troubled about the death of his beloved grandfather (Robert Loggia), he decides to go on a quest to find God. His major question: "Is my grandfather all right?"

Joshua's parents (Denis Leary and Dana Delany) don't quite know how to respond to his experiments with prayer, fasting, and meditation. He seeks counsel from a nun at school (Rosie O'Donnell), the priest he sees for confession, and a cardinal visiting from Rome. His quest eventually compels Joshua to respond to a bully who threatens him, an unpopular boy who hungers for attention, an emergency involving his best friend, and a mysterious youth who seems to always be present when help is needed.

Writer and director M. Night Shyamalan has structured Wide Awake into three segments: "The Questions," "The Signs," and "The Answers." This wonder-filled film proves that questions can be powerful allies on a spiritual journey. It also demonstrates how attention, listening, and love are expressions of the sacred in everyday life. "I spent this year looking for something," Joshua observes, "and ended up seeing everything around me. It's like I was asleep. I'm wide awake now."


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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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