Marshall's first dramatic effort is based on the true story of Dr. Oliver Sacks, from his book of the same title. It details his experimentation with the drug L-dopa which inspired the "awakening" of a number of catatonic patients, some of whom had been "sleeping" for as long as 30 years. Occasionally over-sentimental, but still providing a poignant look at both the patients--who find themselves confronted with lost opportunities and faded youth--and at Sacks, who must watch their exquisite suffering as they slip away. De Niro's performance as the youngest of the group is heart-rending, while Williams offers a subdued, moving performance as the doctor.
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Available on VHS, DVD
Running time 120 minutes.
Natl. Bd. of Review 1990: Actor (De Niro), Actor (Williams); Natl. Soc. Film Critics 1990: Actor (De Niro).
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