Wakey Wakey (2012)
Review by Jude Felton
In a time where, more often than not, the lack of originality in film is put under the spotlight, it was a refreshing change to sit down, for the second time, to watch writer/director Adrian Goodman’s Wakey Wakey. I actually watched this Australian movie a month or two back, but felt the need to give it a second viewing as it is quite special.
The film itself doesn’t follow what you might call a traditional narrative, and as such the plot doesn’t mean as much as the story itself. This is a film where all elements come into play and I’ll make more mention of that shortly. Wakey Wakey follows the lives of two sisters, one of which, Josie, is struck with sudden bouts of narcolepsy, and the other, Samantha, who seems to take great joy in messing with the other ones head. It would be unfair to call her cruel, as it would seem that she does care for her sister, but she just can’t seem to help herself. And she has more going on than is at first revealed.
Due to this condition, Josie’s life is a blur of confusion, dreams and reality. Which one is which? She tries to unravel everything, whilst also dealing with the seeming absence of their parents and her sister’s playful torments.
What Goodman has created here is more of a painting that has come to life, rather than a film in the traditional sense. Even though it is shot in black and white, with minimal dialogue, it is rich in depth, with the many shades bringing everything to a hazy life. Although the dialogue is sparse, the use of sound, including the often abrasive soundtrack, further adds to the melee and confusion in Josie’s head.
Wakey Wakey plays out like a hallucinogenic dream or nightmare, with the style of film mirroring exactly what Josie is experiencing. Due to this the film may well put off some viewers, especially those looking for easy viewing. You will not get that; the pacing and visual style demands your attention throughout. It is well worth your time and effort though, as it is quite the beautiful film, and is bolstered by terrific performances by Laura Wheelwright and Fabiana Weiner in the roles of Josie and Samantha.
Overall, Wakey Wakey is challenging but rewarding viewing and shows that originality in film is still very much alive and kicking, and in the case of this film suddenly falling asleep. I jest about the latter, but believe me when I say that this is an incredibly good slice of cinema.
For more information about Wakey Wakey, including screenings and festival appearances, head on over to the film's Facebook page.