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A picture of true beauty
wildgoose7721 March 2001
I cannot recommend this film strongly enough. This story celebrates the timelessness of love without cynicism or irony. It portrays a relationship in all its many forms: moments of joy, frustration, passion, tenderness, tragedy, and even a bit of insanity. Fielding Pierce and Sarah Williams are the two politically-minded lovers. While they share very similar political goals, their means of achieving those goals are vastly different. Fielding is the ambitious golden boy, campaigning through the political machine in an effort to affect change by working within the established system. Sarah is the rebel outsider, who believes real change will never be accomplished within a corrupt system, leaving political revolution as the only alternative. The film never passes judgement on which is the nobler or the more effective method. Rather, it chooses to portray Fielding and Sarah as two people whose love for what they believe in is second only to the love they have for each other.
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2000's hidden gem is also its Crown Jewel
mercury-2630 March 2001
Never mind `Traffic'. Forget `Gladiator'. To find 2000's finest, most nail-on-the-head perfect film, you'll need to look a little deeper. A small film that only enjoyed limited release in theaters and isn't getting much attention on DVD either, is Keith Gordon's latest, `Waking the Dead'.

Back in 1992, there was another under-appreciated independent film called `A Midnight Clear' that had the misfortune of being released alongside the likes of `Unforgiven' and `Last of the Mohicans'. For reasons I can't fathom, this brilliant film seemingly did nothing to help Gordon's career. His budgets stayed small, but he continued looking for the most daring and fascinating material. In 1996, he released `Mother Night', another war-themed film, only this time set in the aftermath of WWII.

With `Waking the Dead', Gordon outdoes himself. He casts Billy Crudup as Fielding Pierce, an ambitious Coast Guard officer who'd like to be president--and he means it. His world is turned upside-down when he meets Sarah Williams (Jennifer Connelly), who just wants to feel like she `lives on the planet'. Fielding and Sarah could not be more different, yet they cannot live without each other. Each is the antithesis of the other, which dooms their relationship and intensifies their love at the same time.

The film begins with the announcement of Sarah's death, and continues pulling you back and forth in time. Employing this storytelling technique and maintaining the momentum of the story is a difficult task. While we see Fielding wrestle with her memory, we're shown the powerful connection these two had during her life.

What's more, Fielding begins to see visions of her. Some of these visions are so real, he begins to believe she's alive. The hauntings come just as he begins campaigning for the U.S. House. It begins to affect his life and threatens his campaign. The question of whether Sarah is really alive is the dramatic carrot Gordon dangles in front of us. It's then we realize that she was his conscience in life and remains so in death. Gordon pours it on right until the very last frame. He gets the best performance of Connelly's career out of her, plus a jaw-dropping performance out of Crudup that's worthy of an Oscar. Whoever was in charge of plugging this film for awards nominations must have fallen asleep at the wheel (though I see it did win an Independent Spirit award for its script).

That this film or others in the same situation get no recognition is definitely for the best. The more popular a film becomes, the more idiots that come out of the woodwork to second-guess it. So best to leave it to be discovered by those willing to seek it out. It is 2000's crown jewel.

Grade: A (but only because there isn't a higher grade)
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I will keep this review short
necron9915 January 2008
This is one of those films that you watch and contemplate later in your life. As far as losing someone you love, and how that effects every major decision you will ever make for the rest of your life, this film is the most realistic portrayal I have ever seen. Billy Crudup was meant to play Fielding in this movie. This movie is haunting and is just one of those little movies that falls through the cracks but is never forgotten. A stunning movie directing by none other than the director of A Midnight Clear, another terrific film. If you are reading this you should seek out this movie or just buy it online. I give Waking the Dead 9/10.
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Genius Performance......
rbrb10 October 2002
Currently showing on cable this movie is sensational. A young want to be politician apparently loses the love of his life, and the film centres on that love and his grief. Rarely can such emotions have been more compellingly and brilliantly portrayed on film.It is thought provoking and often scary too. There is a superb screenplay and all the performers are excellent. Anyone who has every loved another will know that you see that love wherever you go; and the lead actor's portrayal of that emotion is at genius level.The most emotionally charged scene is at the restaurant of the election results are known, and I for one cannot recall any movie where a particular scene is so intensely sensitive or almost uncomfortably realistic.For quiet and justifiably restrained but wonderful adult entertainment, this is the best film I have seen in years. 10 out of 10.
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Moving film about first love and ambition
Garbo9_9921 May 2007
What made this film so hauntingly beautiful was that fact that the ghost being chased wasn't just Sarah - it was who they both were in their youth, and the overwhelming emotion and honesty that is first love. Was Fielding really seeking Sarah or who he once was - what he once stood for when he loved her? Sometimes when we grow up we let our well-meant integrity, even our simplest dreams, die under the 'reality' of who we end up becoming. I thought this film did an excellent job at showing someone mourning his youth, his wild ideas - and his truest love. I thought Billy Crudup and Jennifer Connelly both did amazing jobs - the intensity of their performances is what really drove the story. Beautiful acting, beautiful movie.
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Another truly great character study from Keith Gordon
John Bethea8 July 2003
Following in the big footsteps of "The Chocolate War", "A Midnight Clear" and "Mother Night", Waking the Dead" is perhaps the most cohesive and satisfying film by Keith Gordon to date. This is a film composed of two parts. The first part is a love story which takes place in America but focuses on the violent overthrow of the Salvador Allende republic in Chile. Fielding Pierce, the protagonist, is an idealistic naval officer from a working class family. He meets Sarah (played by the always lovely Jennifer Connelly), a free-thinking social activist, and they begin a whirlwind romance. Soon, though, she leaves for Chile, where she is murdered during the coup d'etat staged by Pinochet. Fielding, of course is devastated, and it leaves a scar on him which still hasn't healed when the film flashes forward to the eighties, when he has gotten into politics. Attached now to an important politico's daughter, Fielding has to make some important decisions regarding the ideals he holds so important while coping with a tremendous loss he never really came to grips with. Many critics have panned this film for being contrived and unbelievable, mostly because of the "ghost" sequences and the chronological flashback "vignette" structure which Gordon uses to paint the story. I found it refreshing after so many Pulp Fiction wannabe timeline films having been made in the last 10 years. Also, isn't it a bit wonderful to see a film that equates personal emotional turmoil with personal idealistic/political turmoil. In the midst of dealing with the loss/reincarnation of Sarah, Fielding is forced into making hard choices about what kind of man he is going to be; a member of the political machine or a true servant of the people. A rare treat.
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Waking the Dead- Kept me awake!
jonblack1320 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I very much enjoyed this movie. This is one of the few movies that you can actually see the chemistry develop between the two main characters. They were both passionate people, even if some of their passion was a bit different.

I kept thinking was Sarah really there at the end or was it just Fielding's imagination. I think that she probably wasn't there, but then he did answer the phone and it was her. Then we see Fielding running after her in the snow. Although in the beginning we see sarah's face as the person who was killed in the bombing.

Does anyone know for sure if she was really dead or was alive at the end? Jon Black
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Upending Your Initial Expectations, A Thoughtful Film About The Nature Of Love
museumofdave26 April 2013
Based on initial assumptions, this could easily be taken for the usual chick-flick weeper, and dismissed for that reason and because it does not follow the usual rules of narrative, but jumps before and after the key romance: but don't be fooled--while not intellectually complex, this is a film of some suspense and a good deal of character development, a film about how love could upend our expectations and about our reactions to sudden and permanent loss.

Waking The Dead is so crammed with genuine performances from the ensemble that if you allow yourself an immersion in Billy Crudup's confusion, you cannot help but think about those who perhaps you have lost and what they mean to you now; both Crudup and Connelly exude dedication, and one key scene stands out as an exemplar of acting technique coupled with intuitive choices; in his director's commentary, Keith Gordon reveals himself to be the sort of guy you'd like to know, not only for his direct honesty, but simply because he's fun to listen to
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'Waking The Dead' Polarizes Critical Opinion
maxdelaney26 February 2001
The ability of 'Waking The Dead' to polarize critical opinion is the best indication of how powerful this film really is. In short, you either love it or hate it. I LOVED IT!

Yes, the story of an up and coming politician falling in love with a beautiful, left-wing activist is a bit trite but no more so than the 70's in which they shared their life together were naive, idealistic and a necessary part of the evolution of American social conscience.

I thought the performance by Jennifer Connelly as 'Sara' was astounding. Her ability to convey the sentiment of her beliefs in anger and love is nothing short of inspiring. If you're not in love with Sara by the end of this movie, you should check into the Emergency ward of your local hospital because there's no heart in your chest or warm blood flowing in your veins.

Billy Crudup's performance as 'Fielding' could be interpreted as "flat" only to those who would say that life imitates art and not the other way around. I found Crudup's acting highly believable for the character he was portraying. I know lots of extremely intense people who hide behind a facade of calm out of necessity. Where he needed to be good, he was exceptional. Case in point, during his celebration dinner with family after winning the election, his declaration of his burgeoning insanity is extremely convincing and frightful.

Aside of great individual performances, the overall chemistry between Sara and Fielding was tangible, necessary and believable, as this is a story about love and why true love is endless. The editing, jumping between the present and the past, helped to make the point that we all have the power to change the world through the people we come into contact with and in this way we're all eternal, all powerful. To top it off, the haunting presence that was Sara after she was presumably killed, lends an element of mystery and hope in a metaphysical and real way, to a movie that could have been just another, too sweet love story in the hands of lesser director.

Though Waking The Dead has its flaws, they're too few to dwell on. I've watched it now three times and every time I appreciate it more than the last. I suggest its detractors do the same before making hasty negative assessments.
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Politics Vs. Activism
flickershows16 July 2004
You'll have to choose sides in 'Waking The Dead'. Are you going to be an obedient politician or a liberal activist? Those opposing viewpoints cause a tug-of-war, with eternal love playing the ever-tightening knot in the middle. Billy Crudup and Jennifer Connelly are Fielding and Sarah; he the idealistic politician and she the faithful revolutionary. We know from the start that she dies via car bomb while raging against the machine. The movie's chronology is all over the place (which is occasionally confusing) and we see them when they're blissfully happy and otherwise. But after she's gone, the upstanding young man fears for his marbles after he starts to see & hear his dead lover everywhere. Is she actually alive or is he just too insane for public office?

Seeing ghosts is tricky. It can turn into unintentional humour without the proper direction. Director Keith Gordon doesn't pull it off as well as he should, but at least the heat between them seems real. Crudup and Connelly make a great romantic match. She's sandpaper to his block of wood, but she's also his conscience. The phrase "Jiminy Cricket" is actually used, and he succeeds politically only as he's failing emotionally. He clearly needs her whispering in his ear, even if he wouldn't agree with what she would have to say. It's clear that she wouldn't approve of what he's become and he knows it. So I guess that makes her the ghost of Jiminy Cricket too.

The movie would be a turd without strong performances. While no one in the supporting cast has lingered in my memory, the talented leads have. They're both good in almost everything they do, so I expected them to be an excellent duo here too. Connelly has since won an Oscar and Crudup probably will too. Some of Gordon's directorial choices undercut what his actors are doing. His style of editing and use of too many arty shots don't work. When the actors are already front row centre, the director should get out of their way.

What grabbed me about 'Waking The Dead' was that both Fielding and Sarah are trying to make the world a better giant rock. She's counterculture and he's as mainstream as it gets. Since the story boils down to politics versus religion, it's no wonder the film didn't find an audience. Most people have opinions on those matters, yet political correctness demands you not share them. But you ARE allowed to discuss love. The movie knows how to get that right...the ache, the irritation, the yearning, and the loss of true love.
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'I can only say, keep fighting. God be with you. I love you.'
marcus_stokes200010 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
1982; Fielding Pierce (Billy Crudup, 'Big Fish') is a young man who is striving to become a Senator, but he begins seeing and hearing the love of his life, Sarah Williams (Jennifer Connelly, 'A Beautiful Mind'), who died in 1974 in a terrorist bombing, along with two Chilean political refugees... or did she? Fielding begins to relive his love story with her (which we see in flashbacks) and at the same time wonders if it had been right to sacrifice a part of himself, of his idealism, his hopes, his dreams, to reach his goal...

It's never clear if Sarah is actually alive or if she only 'lives inside him', as one Priest states, though the woman tends to act as a personification of Fielding's conscience, and this makes the film even more precious, the haunting tale of a love that goes beyond death, and of the courage it can give to a man.

I have had the pleasure of buying it on VHS, since it never opened in theaters where I live, and seeing the church/politics conflict in it I can probably understand why (not that I have to like it, though), and I really loved it. In the hands of a lesser director and cast, it could have become a 'chick flick' (sparkling bright example of this is 'You've Got Mail'), but with Keith Gordon ('A Midnight Clear', 'Mother Night') at the helm and the aforementioned Crudup (especially him, because he carries the whole movie) and Connelly (who manages to be an ethereal beauty without glamorizing Sarah in any way), with also the sparkling Sandra Oh (who sadly has way too few screen time) in a small supporting role, this movie manages to cross borders and tell an enrapturing tale, and put hope in the people who see it.
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A really fine movie that too few will see.
TxMike11 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is a love story involving two people who in many ways are worlds apart in how they approach life. Billy Crudup is Fielding Pierce, a serious, intelligent young man destined for great things. He is a young attorney and is being groomed for a life in politics.

Jennifer Connelly is Sarah Williams, a new clerical hire in Fielding's brother's business. While visiting, Fielding is instantly smitten with Sarah. When they have lunch, and Fielding tells Sarah he wants to be President, she smiles. He asks why, and she answers, "Because you really believe it."

Set in the early 1970s, while Fielding is making back room deals with older politicians, setting his course for future aspirations, Sarah is protesting the war, and helping combat injustice in various parts of the world. This creates tension, but they are deeply in love.

SPOILERS. Sarah is with some South American political refugees, in the USA, when their vehicle is bombed, and the news reports that Sarah is killed. They have a funeral. Fielding is devastated, he begins to hear Sarah's voice, he begins to see her in various places, but when he pursues her, can never find her. He comes to suspect it is all in his head, he is going crazy. Then, at the end, we see Sarah show up in his apartment, they have an evening together, she explains that her involvements are too dangerous for him, she needs to remain hidden, and they can never see each other again. The next morning Fielding realizes that he has achieved closure, he can get on with his life and try to do good. At the same time, he and we, the audience, don't know if it was really Sarah there, or just another vision. I suspect it was another vision.
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Excellent acting work by Billy Cudrup
arthur-saboia5 June 2006
I was truly surprised to see a young actor really passing on to the audience,his feelings as to his feebleness as a human being when confronted with a priceless loss. Most of us that have been through similar experiences , always expect to identify ourselves with characters in motion pictures but in most cases, we kind of feel frustrated that movie plots don't generally allow the performer to go all the way, cutting their role immersions short Billy Cudrup didn't let that happen and this time we fared better. The same can be said about Jennifer Connelly whose acting talent can only be matched with her beauty.It is my honest opinion that both actors should have been given leading parts in major productions which unfortunately much to my disappointment or lack of information, did not happen. Keep up the excellent work, Billy and Jennifer.
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"I just want to be good."
taperedjean25 September 2003
Fielding Pierce is perhaps one of the greatest fictional characters ever created. I have read the novel on which this movie is based and can safely say that I would name my kid Fielding if the name wasn't so pretentious sounding. Fielding Pierce is passionate, intelligent, and honest. He possesses a sense of integrity that, unfortunately, is not very common in a world that becomes more apathetic with each day that passes. I relate to Fielding because, like him, I stand poised and ready to enter a career that I love, but at the same time resent and hate for much of what it represents. Billy Crudup proves himself to be in the same category as Edward Norton, Joaquin Phoenix and Leonardo Dicaprio as one of the greatest actors of his generation. Every time I watch "Waking the Dead", I find myself more moved by Crudup's passionate performance. I didn't think anyone could honestly portray Scott Spencer's amazing character, but Crudup embodies Fielding, heart and soul.
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Absorbing, but slow moving
FlickJunkie-210 October 2000
Fielding Pierce (Billy Crudup) has one ambition: to be President of the United States. His entire life is planned out to reach that goal. Only he didn't plan on Sarah (Jennifer Connelly). Sarah is a free spirited, radical human rights advocate. We meet them on the day she dies and then flash back to the inception of their relationship in 1972. He is The Establishment personified. She is an iconoclast. Two philosophies more incompatible could not possibly exist, but despite everything, they fall in love.

The story then fast-forwards to Fielding's campaign for the House of Representatives ten years after Sarah's death. It is at this time that Fielding becomes obsessed with Sarah's ghost. He believes he is seeing her everywhere and that he is surely losing his mind. He begins to question his own philosophies and begins to lose his will to win the election.

The film is an engrossing character study of two very fascinating people cut of completely different cloth. The non-linear approach used by Director Keith Gordon was both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes it provided important character development and motivation and at others, it jumped back and forth for no good reason. This often made the film seem disjointed and hard to follow. Gordon's direction was only fair, though he delivered accurate period renderings especially of the 1970's. There were too many instances of unnecessary stylizing. For instance, there was excessive use of monologue jump cuts, where he cut from the speaker saying one thing to the same speaker in the same spot saying something else. He used it so often that it looked like bad editing.

In addition, Gordon tended to focus on the schmaltzy romantic angle and downplayed the far more interesting philosophical tension. He did give us some dialectic, but generally cut away when the philosophical fireworks were just getting started. He also kept treading over the same ground in different ways. This made the story drag.

The acting by both leads was terrific. This film brings Billy Crudup and Jennifer Connelly together again, both having appeared in `Inventing the Abbotts'. Crudup was extremely impressive as the tormented politician. This was an exquisitely complex character and Crudup flexed the role to the max. Connelly was a bit more uneven in her role, sometimes playing the role with great force, but at others with a mousy self-consciousness that was inconsistent with the character. Still, she gave Sarah great depth as both a lover and a crusader, and a convincing passion for her beliefs.

This is an absorbing but slow moving romance that is a bit heavy handed, but nonetheless interesting. I rated it a 7/10. It showcases good performances by two young actors we will surely hear from again. Not recommended for impatient viewers.
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Strange and interesting movie...
dwpollar18 May 2001
1st watched 5/19/2001 - 8 out of 10(Dir-Keith Gorden) Strange and interesting movie that in the end really is about having character in whatever you do. It takes a while for the movie to get there and that's ok for the most part. The only downside to the movie in my opinion is the romance because it tries to overshadow what is the bigger topic(which I mentioned in my first sentence). This is all disguised in what could have been a "Ghost" ripoff because the basic storyline involves a couple that falls in love, one person dies and then haunts the other person, but this movie is much deeper and just kind of carries the romance with it. Billy Crudup and Jennifer Connely are the main attractions in this story and they both do an excellent job from beginning to end. Basically, Billy's character follows a political career path and Jennifer's heart is more into helping people(no matter if the'yre on the right side or the wrong side according to society.) This causes a conflict in their relationship and Jennifer leaves Billy, but Billy still loves her and sees visions of her as he continues upward in his career. Billy becomes hard-hearted and career driven which seems to make his visions increase until he finally comes to a breaking point and faces the part of Jennifer's character that is still inside of him. I won't give away the ending, but it is obvious that in the way the filmmakers finished the movie that the romance was not the issue. This is a unique and well-done piece of storymaking that deserved more attention(which I hope to give it with a 2nd viewing sometime soon hopefully).
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Best film i've ever seen
mrcrabsticks11 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The film tells the story of Fielding Pearce as he is plagued by memories of his former girlfriend, Sarah Williams, who died 10 years ago. This forces Fielding to self destruct while running for political office in New York. Billy Crudup is fascinating to watch in the lead role of Fielding. In the opening scene we see his reaction to the death of his girlfriend and the pain is right there in his eyes, nothings hidden, it's just a raw reaction to the worst moment in the characters life. The chemistry between Crudup and the equally talented Jennifer Connelly, who plays Sarah is tangible. They ARE a couple, these 2 actors appear so comfortable with each other you totally believe in the relationship. I first watched "Waking the dead" about 4 years ago, and it left me stunned that a film with such emotional depth and superb performances went unnoticed (atleast in the UK),I was a film student at the time and not even my class mates had heard of it! But they had heard of junk like the "Planet of the apes" remake! I love this film so much and its as close to perfect as can be...Keith Gordon is one of the most underrated directors working (watch "A midnight clear" for further proof)...Billy Crudup should be in way more movies...Everyone should watch "Waking the dead" as soon as they can.
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a great movie for those who understand what it means to have noble ends
ecorriel26 April 2003
I have never commented on a movie before but after reading some of the reviews i feel obliged to say something.

anyone who disparages this movie simply doesn't get it and the reason they don't get it is because they don't understand what it means to have both noble aspirations for oneself and love for another based on respect for that person's character; in other words, they are unable to relate to the main characters. this movie strikes such a deep chord (for some of us) because it recognizes and speaks about the two single most important things in life - what we devote our lives to and who we devote our lives to. it is so emotionally powerful because it examines a case when these two passions come into conflict and must battle each other for supremacy. i can scarcely put my feelings for this movie into words because does a sublime job taking on the weightiest of subjects - fraught with emotional and moral complexities that most people simply cannot relate to.

if your reaction to this review is 'this guy is such an arrogant f*ck,' then skip this movie. otherwise prepare to make room on your top-5-movies-ever list.
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An excellent and beautiful story.
garp-1914 April 2000
Unfortunately, Waking the Dead will not win any awards: in today's computer-driven special effect and in your face story-lines, this is a simple and beautiful love story that most the general public will find slow. The plot sounds boringly simplistic: an up-and-coming politician begins seeing his thought-to-be-dead girlfriend everywhere he goes. What we find, however, is a story about what it means to love someone devoutly, what it means to believe in yourself despite disappointing the ones you love and why as humans, we refuse to give up hope. Billy Crudup and Jennifer Connelly provide amazing central performances, with an excellent supporting actress performance by Janet McTeer. The music is excellent, and both the photography and directing are impeccable. A somber film, but you will not be disappointed.
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Might Wake the Dead... but Put Everyone Else To Sleep
hokeybutt4 July 2004
WAKING THE DEAD (2 outta 5 stars)

Writer/director Keith Gordon has made some really fantastic movies that most people never see or hear about (A Midnight Clear, Mother Night) so I was very excited about seeing this one. Unfortunately, I have to say that it's not up to his usual standards. Billy Crudup plays an idealistic young man with dreams of winning a seat in the US Senate. Jennifer Connelly plays the idealistic young girl he falls in love with who has a slightly more radical take on government. The events of the movie take place out of the linear time sequence. The movie starts with Connelly's death and backtracks to when they first met... and it leapfrogs back and forth forever after... as the latter-day Crudup begins to have visions of his dead girl coming back to life. Is he crazy? Is she a ghost? Or did she fake her own death? The acting is pretty good... especially by Crudup, who gets all the showy, emotional breakdown scenes... but the script and story are a bit on the bland side. Not a bad movie... but kind of slow... and after all is said and done... doesn't really leave you with much. (A good movie for playing "Spot The Canadian" though... as all the smaller roles seem to be played by familiar Canadian actors... Molly Parker and Leah Pinsent among them.)
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A Frustrating Blech-fest of Overwrought Emotion
sisyphus-1213 October 2000
This movie is the kind of garbage you might find on the Lifetime channel. I was embarrassed for the actors who appeared in this gut-wrenching, slobbering, emotion-fest. Both Billy Crudup and Jennifer Connolly are fine actors, and anyone offended by mawkish sentimentality will wince at some of the lines they are made to speak in this in this awful, maudlin, frustrating movie.

Billy Crudup plays a super-decent, super-caring, super-sensitive Democratic (of course--just one of this movie's many cliches) Congressional contender. Jennifer Connolly is his lover from some 10 years ago, who he believes has been killed in Chile rescuing people from a despotic regime. Their affair is told through flashbacks. They have long senstive conversations. When they fight, they don't really fight--they are both too decent to yell at the other. They just look hurt, and we *know* that this is a very meaningful non-fight. Naturally, he is a gentle lover; she weeps during sex. Everyone in this movie is terribly earnest, and LOVES to talk about what they're feeling. In other words: This is the Über Chick Movie!

But then, when Crudup's character is running for office, he begins seeing Connolly...around, sometimes out of the corner of his eye, sometimes everywhere, a flock of her coming at him. It seems likely...likely that she's alive...or is it his imagination? We're never given a convincing reason why, if Connolly is still alive, she has been in hiding all these years, or how such a sensitive, decent person could justify doing what she did to him. If she isn't alive...then ole Fielding is hallucinating and is, therefore, a psychopath, and the whole idea that he could sustain a campaign, let alone get elected, is laughable.

There is one remarkably inept scene in which Crudup's character Fielding is eating with Connolly, her church coworkers (two priests), and 4 Chilean nationals they have just rescued. One of the Chilean women confronts Fielding on his desire to become a politician, condemning him specifically for becoming an American politician, and we--like Fielding--feel the others in the room silently agreeing with her. Fielding explodes (but decently!), pointing out their hypocrisy, and how, despite the world's finger-pointing at Americans, it is OUR shores they so often wash up on when fleeing the terror of their homelands. Finally, he declares that he is "choking on the collective superiority in this room!" It is a good line, and he delivers a great tirade...but everyone (except, perhaps, the Chileans) in this movie is so darn nice, and good and wholesome, that we can't believe for a minute that they can't see Fielding's goodness, too. So their collective superiority...it just doesn't ring true.

In fact, very, very little in this movie rings true. This is the sort of movie a 14-year-old girl wanting an adult love story might like; it displays precisely that sort of idealized emotional maturity. Few discerning adults will be able to stomach it. Even my wife (who is the reason I sat through it) disliked it.
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Pretentious and boring
beagle-1323 June 2001
This ambitious semi-supernatural romantic drama has a clever central plot but wallows in it's own seriousness to the point where any enjoyment is dissolved. Jennifer Connelly is good as the saintly object of wannabe president Billy Crudup's affection, but Crudup himself struggles with an overtly emotional and poorly written role. Painfully (and I mean painfully) slow, self important and extremely uninvolving - with the one of the worst scores of recent history and awfully inept editing that wrings any sense of interest out of each and every scene.
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Cannot recommend this enough. Simply stunning.
NateWatchesCoolMovies17 August 2015
I had never heard of Keith Gordon's Waking The Dead before tonight. After watching it just now, I am emotionally exhausted, and my mind is in overdrive analyzing every perfect piece of this well thought out puzzle, and reeling trying to process and deal with the raw sadness and electric, haunting nature of the mystery that encases the story like a chilling road map of the two main characters emotions. I am so affected by this one that I'm scared I'll screw this review up with my rambling adjectives and poetic mumbling that's become my trademark. There are a lot of films I like, some I love, but it takes a true gem to make it into my pantheon of all time favourites. This made it with one viewing. What can I say. Billy Crudup, who I've never been blown away by (although he's solid in Big Fish) gives an award worthy turn here as Fielding Pierce, an ambitious coast guard operative who climbs the ladder of politics and aspires to be a congressman. He is concise, democratic, and has a by the numbers view of the world. He meets Sarah Williams (Jennifer Connelly), who couldn't be more different than him. She's an activist, focused on helping the world one rally, one church, one ounce of compassion at a time, as opposed to institution and organized parties. Despite these differences, they fall deeply, hopelessly, eternally in love. Connelly is a touching wonder as Sarah, expelling warmth and fiery concern with her performance. The two of them together make the most convincing on screen couple I've seen in a while, and I couldn't take my eyes off any scene with them. Now.. the film's opening scene is Fielding watching a news report of her death, a car bombing in Chile. It then time jumps between scenes of their budding relationship in the 70's, to Fielding in the early 80's, on a career upswing. Only problem, he suddenly begins to be haunted by waking visions of Sarah, her voice in his head, her figure in the streets calling to him, memories of her flooding his perception and causing him to see her everywhere. Is she still alive somewhere? Is he losing it? The film makes a very brave choice and decides never to give us one answer, even at the end. Crudup owns the part, especially in the scenes with Connolly, they are absolutely sensational together. The script goes from intriguing mystery to thoughtful treatise on how we may lose what we love and want, but that it may be in service of what we are meant for. Hard stuff for anyone with a heart to swallow, and indeed some scenes later had me just drowning in tears, but a theme that I can't say will leave my consciousness soon. Hal Holbrook is there as Pierce's mentor, Janet Mcteer as his no nonsense sister, Stanley Anderson is touching as his father, and Paul Hipp agonizing in one particular scene as his black sheep brother. The film entrances from beginning to end. The soundtrack is perfect, with contributions from Joni Mitchell and Peter Gabriel fitting the ethereal tone, and an incredulous original score. The atmosphere captures Fielding's confusion and heartbreak sensationally, and some camera work from expert cinematographer Tom Richmond provides some shots that look like they're out of a dream, specifically a scene in a subway tunnel where he sees her everywhere. The story flows perfectly with the beautiful music, aching romance and otherworldly mystery to weave a flowing tapestry of pure creation. I'm always amazed when all the elements of a piece flow harmoniously together. How this was not one one most talked about film of 2000 just kills me. I can't say how it will affect you, but it left me sitting on the couch in awe of what I had just seen, on the verge of breaking down, devastated by what Had just unfolded. Maybe you'll get that out of it too. Maybe not. Just don't come to me later and say you couldn't enjoy it as much as you wanted to because I hyped it up too much. I hate when people do that, and you know who you are. Nevertheless, this film.. Deep, ponderous, an old school tearjerker, without pandering melodrama, it gives a purpose to its two star crossed lovers, and the fact that they're so removed from one another in their respective lives and outlooks only adds to the captivating nature of their unbroken love. I'll stop gushing..for now.
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Confusing at first.
PatrynXX30 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I'd been watching a ton of cheap $1 DVD's for a bit just to get used to movies I'd been putting off. This was the first one I finally got to. I thought it was really well made. I do think it takes awhile to understand, but I got the hang of it. We never really find out if she's real or dead. We'll leave that up to the imagination, but I wouldn't call this a depressing movie. I'd gone for years without watching thinking it would be. But it's more uplifting really. Lets us into a possible area of politicians when they are younger. The music is slow, but the movie runs that way. A lot of music in this movie and loved the Peter Gabriel song at the end. Not sure if I'd watch this all the time, but it's a good movie that gets you thinking.

9/10 Quality: 10/10 Entertainment: 6/10 Replayable: 5/10
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Larger than life
raulfaust31 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is the reason why I give unknown movies a try-- they sometimes simply end up surprising me! "Waking the Dead" is a strong and dramatic romance, which shows everything a man passes through when he loses the one he really loves. The main character is apparently a common guy, but once his girlfriend dies (or not), everything goes downhill. He inadvertently sees her everywhere, with voices and images in his mind. There is a point in the movie we don't know if Pierce is insane or if her girlfriend isn't dead at all-- an Elvis Presley resemblance maybe. In the first half hour of the movie it seems it will never engage, but once she calls him on the phone (or not), the story becomes emotional and leaves the spectator out of breath. Also there were some moments this picture reminded me of "Ghost" and "Titanic", two unforgettable Hollywood romances, but there isn't a moment that it tries to copy those movies. In the end, even thought we don't find out what happened in fact, the movie gives a good time and surprises the spectator, which wasn't expected by anybody, I guess. Love is eternal. Great movie!
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