Why is it that the movies always tend to make love stories so tragic and heartbreaking? It’s as if true love can only be real if it’s attached to heartache and tragedy, and two people can only really love each other if it’s forbidden and difficult. Waking The Dead is no exception.
It’s 1974 and Sarah Williams (Jennifer Conolley) is murdered in a car bombing. Flash back to 1972 where Sarah first meets her true love, Fielding Pierce (Billy Crudup). The two fall passionately in love despite their extreme opposite political viewpoints. Now jump ahead to 1982 where Fielding is campaigning for senator in a neck-to neck race. Flash back again to 1972 where he remembers his lost love Sarah and the fueling arguments they had over who and what they believed in. Now jump ahead to 1982 yet again where Fielding thinks he hears and sees Sarah. So here’s the premise, did Sarah really die ten years earlier in a fatal bombing or is Fielding cracking up? With about twenty more flashbacks and flash forward, it’s hard to even care.
I guess the idea is solid enough, but the disjointed scenes make it difficult to stay focused. It just doesn’t carry through and deliver. Is Sarah really dead or is she a figment of Fielding’s imagination? Better still, now that Fielding is up for senator, is this belief in Sarah being alive his way of questioning his conscience? Deep stuff, I know, and who wants to go to a theater to think about all of it? Not only that, but Jennifer Connolley’s phony Southern accent was enough to make my head spin. There were moments where she would be in the middle of some serious statement and then out of nowhere she’d switch to some mild Texan drawl. What in the hell is that all about? I mean, they’re in Chicago, not Dallas.
And as for it being a great love story? Well, it fits the all too tragic love story theme as their love is tormented by personal beliefs and death, but that’s about it. Crudup and Connolley have absolutely no chemistry. You think they would have learned after Inventing The Abbotts. Ugh! It’s hard to feel the heartbreak, or any type of emotion for that matter, when the two focal points are completely mismatched.
Waking The Dead is one of those love stories that falls flat. We never care about the characters or even want to. My advice, leave the dead alone.
+ Ashley Adams