Sometimes you see a movie that is pure entertainment, then other times a great comedy, there are the mysteries, and sometimes they surround themselves with a side of life we just can’t comprehend. We know when we see a good movie. Waking Madison is a good movie. It wraps itself in mystery so much it becomes difficult to tell others about it without giving away so much that it would damage or destroy the experience.
Madison is a young woman who has many struggles due in part to her childhood. She has developed Dissociative Identity Disorder. She has become tired of the things life has thrown her way and decides to get well. There are struggles in her recovery and there is more control in her life by others than she realizes. There are those involved in her recovery that we have various feelings for, some we like, some we don’t, but just like real life, there are things we like and don’t like in our own lives. It is as Madison realizes who she is that recovery has the potential to take place.
Waking Madison is not a movie for all people, one has to think and stick it out until the end to fully understand the story. It movie is unique, while some mysteries have an epiphany moment; this one has 2 or more, of which the last one in the closing moments, brings everything together. I credit the direction provided by Katherine Brooks. She has a talented cast to work around though including Elisabeth Shue who plays psychiatrist Dr. Elizabeth Barnes and Sarah Roemer who does a very nice job as Madison. Throw in a supporting cast of people like Will Patton and Taryn Manning and there is a quality cast of actors. In the special features Elisabeth Shue states it is the first time in 25 years of acting that she has ever been directed by a female director. This largely female cast delivers a powerful punch.
Director Brooks does an excellent job at developing the role of Madison which is largely based on her own life. In the journey of the movie, and it is a journey, we learn more about Madison with each step she takes. It is confusing as there is a hodgepodge of activities that has the viewer for the longest time wondering what is going on. As the script and characters develop there is in the conclusion of the film a moment where we totally understand what has been happening. It is done in such a way that for many they will want to go back and watch the film again to catch things they missed along the way. Unfortunately for many, I suspect they will stop the journey of the film and turn around and either turn off the DVD or quit watching all together. It is one of the things that make the tough times of the journey difficult, the process of getting to the end may not be fun, but once you get to the conclusion you will find rewards. The ending of the journey helps the viewer understand the journey and completing it proved satisfying for me.
There are times have a presumption of what others are like based on appearances. Unfortunately, the make-up of our personalities and the sometimes chemical imbalances that exist within the brains of some are things that are unseen and impact our wellness. This is especially true for those with mental illness. The need to love others, even those in our family, is something many take for granted. We don’t always realize how others will react to the love, or lack of love we give them. Neither do we understand the journeys that have brought them to the place they are in life. How people respond to the difficulties of life is different, I have always been impressed at how the mind adapts to the extreme pressures of life. Others look at how some do this as horrific, but in some situations I have learned to look at them as God given ways to deal and cope with the hardship. While on the surface some things seem like horrors, for others, it is as if God found a way to take that meant for evil and turned it around and used it for good.
Waking Madison is a movie that will either be liked or hated. I really liked it; of course I took the whole trip from beginning to end. I understood the themes being addressed because I have worked with people like Madison. This film is not easy to watch, and while it could have been more entertaining, I don’t know if it would have been as powerful. This is a drama in its purest form; it is story that is horrific and unfortunately all too real for many. Is it worth watching? You bet it is, but more importantly it is worth understanding.
While I really enjoyed this movie I don’t know I could say it is worth owning for many because it is difficult to watch at times. Certainly the hardest viewing is the first; the second is somewhat enlightening as to better understand the story and concept being presented, after that, it is hard to imagine this being a multiple viewing DVD. The ample special features which include interviews, deleted scenes, a director’s commentary and more are rather appropriate for mental health professionals and others with an interest in the subject matter. I can recommend it certainly for education purposes. There is quality story telling, a methodology of direction, and excellent acting. For film enthusiast, I think they will enjoy this well made, low budget, educational enlightening journey.
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