Time: 121 mins.
Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (DeNiro) and Best Adapted Screenplay
SYNOPSIS: A new doctor finds himself with a ward full of comatose patients. He is disturbed by them and the fact that they have been this way for decades with no hope of any cure. His new treatment brings them back to reality, but causes more harm than good for both the patients and their families as they all try to cope with the missing years.
BOTTOM LINE: A film that could have been a prequel to the horribly trite PATCH ADAMS, if it weren't for the expert directing and superb acting of Williams, De Niro and the rest of the cast. Made all the more poignant and heartbreaking because you know it's based on a true story. It's hard watching these poor people forced to live out their lives trapped within their own immovable bodies, especially when you get a peek at the vibrant souls underneath.
This dramatic and powerful follow-up to her blockbuster comedy BIG proves Marshall's a talent to be reckoned with. De Niro does a great job as Leonard Lowe, a middle-aged man who went into a catatonic state in his teens and is forced to deal with the loss of those years and the possibility that this miracle may not last. He, of course, is brilliant. Williams stretches his dramatic muscles as the doctor who makes the miracle possible, yet is faced with his own demons of inadequacy when his patients start to retreat back to their unreachable inner worlds.
Though a comedic genius, he's just as good an actor when given the right material to corral his wacky nature. He and DeNiro are an impressive team that gives this sad story the depth and subtlety to be amazing. A wonderful film about enjoying life to the fullest that doesn't bang you over the head with it's message.