Action / Biography / Drama

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 84% · 37 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 89% · 50K ratings
IMDb Rating 7.8/10 10 157960 158K

Plot summary

Dr. Malcolm Sayer, a shy research physician, uses an experimental drug to "awaken" the catatonic victims of a rare disease. Leonard is the first patient to receive the controversial treatment. His awakening, filled with awe and enthusiasm, proves a rebirth for Sayer too, as the exuberant patient reveals life's simple but unutterably sweet pleasures to the introverted doctor.

November 15, 2018 at 11:25 PM


Penny Marshall

Top cast

Robert De Niro as Leonard Lowe
Robin Williams as Dr. Malcolm Sayer
Vin Diesel as Hospital Orderly
Bradley Whitford as Dr. Tyler
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.01 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 1 min
Seeds 25
1.93 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 1 min
Seeds 64

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by gavin6942 8 / 10

Oliver Sacks... Fictionalized

The victims of an encephalitis epidemic many years ago have been catatonic ever since, but now a new drug offers the prospect of reviving them.

Dustin Hoffman as an autistic man in "Rain Man"? You have nothing on Robert DeNiro as a post-encephalitic Parkinson's patient in this film! The tics, the walk, the antics... obviously I was not there when this actually happened, but I was impressed. Robin Williams did alright, too, playing it straight in one of his many turns as a doctor on film.

I love Oliver Sacks and his writing, and I am glad they were able to make such a great adaptation that was both educational and entertaining (like his books are). Was the transformation so sudden and dramatic in real life? I have my doubts. But you have to cut corners to fit within two hours, so if this was one way, it is forgivable.

Ebert gives this four of four stars. I think he was spot on with this one, and his longer-than-average review (stuffed with praise) is excellent.

Reviewed by ccthemovieman-1 10 / 10

What An Incredible Story!!

Here's a good example of how you can still make a great modern-day movie without profanity, violence or sex.

This is an amazing story, based on fact, about about a doctor who makes great progress fighting an illness that heretofore was considered incurable. These were patients in catatonic states, and the good doctor uses an experimental drug to snap these people back to reality and to a normal life as they once had. The patients, and how they react, both before and after the medications, is really fascinating.

Robert De Niro is outstanding as one of the patients, but that's not a surprise knowing all the fine acting performances he's done over the years. Robin Williams, relatively new to dramatic acting when this came out, was also excellent in a very low-key role. Penelope Ann Miller is extremely sweet and appealing. I wish both she and Williams would do more roles like that.

With multiple viewings, I came to appreciate the minor characters in here a lot more, such as De Niro's mother, played by Ruth Nelson, whom I fondly remember in the 1945 film "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn." What a treat is was to see her again and this was just two years before she died. Also, Alice Drummund as the patient known as "Lucy" was notable.

Language-wise, i's almost stunning to watch a movie which has De Niro, Williams, Miller and John Heard and not hear one profane word uttered! (The film isn't perfect, however, as some idiot decided to insert one f-word, and in a totally unnecessary circumstance.)

This is a memorable story and one I guarantee you won't forget because the subject matter is so different.

Reviewed by AlsExGal 10 / 10

"I know it's not 1926, I just need it to be"...

... is just one of the many quotable quotes in this film that will stick with you. This one is one of my personal favorites and just about as perfect as modern (post 1970) movie making gets. The messages and comparisons of the film are rather obvious, but the individual scenes, the characters, and the acting are superlative.

Malcolm Sayer (Robin Williams) is a complex individual - he's a physician - a healer of men - who is scared to death of all mankind. In fact he seems to be scared of all living things including a friendly neighborhood dog. He's gotten away with pure research positions up to the present, but now, in 1969 and in need of a job, he takes a job as a physician in a chronic care hospital. Now here's the complexity - You'd think a man who is afraid of other people would just sit back and perform his rounds and be grateful to be around patients who are as physically catatonic as he is emotionally catatonic. However, his humanity and intellectual curiosity are stronger than his fear and desire to hide as he begins to notice "patterns" in both the behavior and in the records of some of his patients that makes him believe that they may still be "alive inside". This leads to research that pinpoints one illness that all of the patients had in common - encephalitis lethargica that spread worldwide from 1917 to 1928. After the illness subsided, sometimes years later, would the catatonia gradually set in.

Dr. Sayer manages - with great difficulty - to get funding to try a new drug on these particular patients, and they awaken, some after 40 years, many in their 60's physically, but in their 20's emotionally.

The focus of the movie, though, is on the friendship that forms between Leonard Lowe (Robert DeNiro), a 50 year old victim of the disease, and Dr.Sayer. Leonard's mother (Ruth Nelson as Mrs. Lowe) is one of the few people visiting on a regular basis after all of these years - Leonard has been here for 30 years, ill since age 11, catatonic since age 20. So the focus is on Leonard's love of life once awakened versus Dr. Sayer's fear of it - this is the obvious part of the film. However that doesn't take anything away from De Niro doing a great job of playing someone who isn't a tough guy for a change and from Robin Williams from playing one of his most dramatic roles, both characters extremely vulnerable in their own way. Julie Kavner is pitch perfect as Dr. Sayer's loyal ,hard working, and assertive nurse and assistant. Ruth Nelson gives a performance of a lifetime, just two years before her death, as a mother who has dedicated her life to a son she remembers as and has cared for as a child for almost 40 years but is a bit perplexed when he awakens as a man and his fancy turns towards love. For once she has a rival for her son's attention, which is not unusual. What is unusual is that she has to deal with this 30 years later than most mothers.

There are heartbreaking scenes, there are funny scenes, and one scene in particular that brings to light how people sometimes will dismiss something as possible because it just seems too horrible. My favorite scene in this latter category: Dr. Sayer, when doing his research on the catatonic patients, visits the eminent physician Dr. Peter Ingham (Max Von Sydow). Ingham was dealing with the catatonia when it first developed in the 20's and 30's. When Dr. Sayer asks Dr. Ingham how he knows that the virus has not spared the patients higher faculties he responds: "Because the alternative is unspeakable." Classic.

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