Genre: Drama Running Time: 1 hr. 29 min.
Release Date: April 7th, 2017 MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Kevin Nash Actors: Harriet Madeley, Shane Bruce, Kristy Bruce, Mark Katz, Paul Mooney, Kathryn Worth
omething is immediately a little off about a woman giving a communications presentation at a conference center in London – thanks solely to woeful string music that hopes to set the tone all by itself. And then, on the way to her next destination, 26-year-old American Scarlett Roth (Harriet Madeley) can’t seem to get the attention of her taxi driver, as if to suggest that she might be in the process of an abduction. It doesn’t help that she just had a severe fight with her mother in Los Angeles, and that it appears as if it wouldn’t be unexpected should no one hear from her for awhile.
When Scarlett arrives at Julie’s (Shane Bruce) house, with two bottles of champagne in hand, things grow a bit stranger. The two women fail to make small talk as they wait for a third party, Amy (Kristy Bruce), who is extremely curt and dour when the trio finally sit down for dinner. Either some great conspiracy is afoot, or “Waking David” has gone well out of its way to feel mysterious and foreboding. Within the first ten minutes, it could either be a relationship drama or a crime thriller. And as the minutes tick away, answers remain distant; if the plot doesn’t swerve swiftly into a petrifying murder mystery, it will disappoint anyone not well-versed on the synopsis.
When Julie’s fiancé, Simon Blake (Mark Katz), arrives home unexpectedly, it sluggishly becomes apparent that Scarlett is looking into a family connection – and that, sadly, she’s not about to be murdered in some horrific fashion. Julie’s sister Helen (Kathryn Worth) pokes around until the truth comes out, but the revelations can’t possibly match the anticipation of the setup. Instead, as the picture meanders around uncomfortable associations and the reluctant acceptance of familial complications, the melodrama becomes unbearable. The interactions and details are so slow-burning that even when a few jokes lighten the mood, it’s impossible not to think of how all the narrative choices and pacing issues were intentional yet completely ill-fitting.
The look of the film has an undeniably decent production quality to it, but the sharpness of the image and the convincing acting can’t compensate for the dreadful crawl of the storyline. Some big secret about Scarlett’s father stews for the majority of the running time, and it’s spoken about as if it’s supposed to change everything or cause a huge upset; but the more the dialogue circles around it instead of confronting it head on, the more irritating it all becomes. “Waking David” should have been a suspenseful heist movie – not a drama – if it had aimed to harbor a lone secret for so long and with the idea of revealing it to be an impactful, climactic ordeal. Furthermore, characters sit around and brood, silently, to reiterate feelings that are already painfully apparent in their expressions and in previous dialogue. Expectedly, when everything does come out into the open, it isn’t enough to negate the prior slowness. This is the kind of film that was designed around a single, simple mixup, and then bloated into feature length without worthwhile substance to warrant such a project.
– Mike Massie