Directed by: #CyrusMirakhor
Written by: #CareyCrim
Ever feel like you just can’t face going outside some days? Well, that’s a problem agoraphobic mortician Molly Harrison (Myndy Crist) faces every day of her life, having not ventured outside since the death of her husband...three years ago. This is, perhaps, the cause of a rather unusual birthday gift from her mother (Lily – Caroline Lagerfelt) and teenage Daughter (Sam – Paige Searcy) in the form of a sex doll (It’s to practise embalming techniques on…honest).
This, of course, is merely a joke, and Molly’s real present is a trip to Moscow for her and Sam. A trip her anxiety won’t even allow her to entertain—upsetting Sam, who has always wanted to visit. Later that night, strangely, the sex doll gift seemingly comes to life as her deceased husband, Peter (Jo Koy). But something isn’t right. Peter isn’t supportive of Molly’s needs and instead spends his time convincing her to stay indoors with him, rather than attempting to deal with her crippling agoraphobia. This puts further strain on Molly’s relationship with both her mother and daughter, as well as her blossoming romance with film-maker Joe (James Denton).
It’s clear to the viewer – but perhaps not so clear to Molly – there’s nothing magical going on here, and that Peter is simply a manifestation of Molly’s grief and anxiety. The things Peter says to Molly are intended to make her doubt herself, to make her consider the worst-case scenario of everything she does, to make her feel as though the inside is safe and the outside is dangerous. But of course, this is really just Molly convincing herself of these things and being ruled that fear. As someone who suffers from social anxiety, I can safely say this is something the film gets absolutely spot-on. Indeed, there were moments in this film which felt awfully close to home.
This is a testament to both Carey Crim’s (on whose play this film is based) terrific writing and the all-round solid acting. There’s not a weak link to be found amongst its cast, but there are several standout performances here. Crist gives a superbly empathetic display in the lead role, and both Searcy and Lagerfelt offer a solid grounding for the film. Of course, it helps for an actor to have a good dialogue to work from and thankfully the scriptwriting here is succinct and naturalistic. The story itself isn’t terribly original, nor is the subject matter covered; there’s no real “wow” factor here. But what there is, is incredibly well-written and tightly made and it achieves what it sets out to do.
Wake is a weighty examination of grief, personal anxieties, and the power these psychological conditions hold over us. One in which I could relate far more than I care to admit. There are certain moments which could be difficult for sufferers of similar conditions to watch, particularly those scenes dealing with the collateral damage of severe agoraphobia...as they should be. Wake is affecting and honest in the way it approaches its subject matter, but, more importantly, it understands the complexities and difficulties surrounding it and approaches them with nothing but complete respect.