"I want to be good."
Waking the Dead

[Interview with Director Keith Gordon]

Review by Ross Anthony

It's kind of like oatmeal. Without honey or milk, it tastes rather bland, but sticks to your ribs all day. Some wholesome thing inside you. One right thing you did.

If you're in love, you'll empathize. But if you're not, you'll say, "Man, it's been a long time. I'd sure like to do that again."

A new genre: political romance. A civics love story. Left meets right and falls in love. In the farout 70's, Fielding Pierce, a young man born to succeed in office, stumbles across Sarah, a revolutionary-minded bleeding-heart with a twist of the Catholic. Of course they hop right into bed -- and my goodness, these are some hot and steamy love scenes. All would be hunky-dory hadn't the news reported Sarah's untimely death during her libertarian mission down in Chile. A decade later and smack dab in the middle of his campaign for office, Fielding starts to pretend he's seeing and hearing Sarah again (or is she really there?). Coupled with gradually corrupting powers of politics, his seductive visions set him struggling with political goals, family expectations, personal morals, and sanity.

Billy Crudup plays the role extremely well, but mostly without pungency, save for a few exemplary outstanding Oscar moments. In one scene, he thinks Sarah's on the phone. He's shaking and crying and believably moved to near vomit. In another pinnacle scene, he announces to his family that he may be losing his marbles. It's wonderful: fancy restaurant, proper dinner party and then this guttural outburst. Fantastic performances. Billy was very good in another prosaic movie this time last year: "Hi-Lo Country". Jennifer Connelly also performs well. In fact all do, and the direction is sharp; it's just that the script is rather like oatmeal -- bland. Billy's two moments - like unbroken, unresolved chunks of brown sugar, give a mighty flavorful chew to this banal, but hearty meal.

The ending narrative is unnecessary and out of place in a movie that's all about thinking and feeling. The people/letter scene is excellent and would have served the slightly-open resolution well.

[Interview with Director Keith Gordon]

  • Waking the Dead. Copyright © 2000. Rated R.
  • Starring Billy Crudup, Jennifer Connelly, Molly Parker, Janet McTeer, Paul Hipp. Sandra Oh, Hal Holbrook.
  • Directed by Keith Gordon
  • Screenplay by Robert Dillon, based upon the novel by Scott Spencer.
  • Produced by Keith Gordon, Stuart Kleinman, Linda Reisman at Egg/Gramercy/USA.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:49:43 PDT