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What I initially thought of as a kiddie flick, I was pleasantly
surprised to find 'Wide Awake' so much more (though I should have known
better since it was written by the wonderful M. Night 'Sixth Sense'
The story of the film revolves around a little boy named Joshua who
seeks to find God in order to ensure his dead grandfather is safe.
Ten-year-old Josh is Catholic and an unflinching believer in his faith
until the death of his beloved grandfather. Suddenly all Josh has been
raised to believe in is thrown into turmoil as he finds his faith
seriously called into question. He begins to wonder why God allows so
much bad to exist in the world and, more importantly, what happened to
his grandfather following his death.
The film is not just a story of faith but also of growing up and
realising the world is not a simple place with absolutes, rather things
may not always be what they seem. The ending, like 'Sixth Sense' does
have a great twist that works so well and will leave even the
hard-hearted feeling warm. Joseph Cross, as Josh, and Timothy
Reifsnyder, as his best friend Dave, were able to carry the film at a
first-rate level despite being so young. Cross portrayed Josh's
innocence, his disenchantment with God, his love for his friends and
family and the joy at his end revelation with the proficiency of a
professional triple his age. His touching performances brought heart to
the story. The adult actors in supporting roles, with Dana Delany and
Denis Leary as Josh's parents and Rosie O'Donnell as the nun teacher,
were decent yet understated as they, quite rightly, let the child
One of the best things of this film is that although much of the cast
are children, they aren't the typical annoying brats you see tend to
encounter in Hollywood films. The storyline isn't sugary either. The
interaction of Josh with his friends and adults around him were handled
poignancy, especially the flashback scenes with his grandfather that
portrayed their strong bond perfectly.
'Wide Awake' does make you wonder if ten-year-olds' can have deeper
thoughts and views than adults give them credit for and I think many of
us can empathise with how childlike wonder slowly gives way to adult
insights as we grow up and leave childhood behind. This isn't a film
just for the religious but those who are interested in a realistic
depiction of a child's coming-of-age.
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