Displaying items by tag: Awake (2019)

Show Guide: 'Awake' (2019)

27 February, 2021

Awake is about a young woman, Dana (Flavia Bechara), who wakes up from a coma after twelve years, unable to speak or interact with others. With the help of her family, including sisters Lama (Stephanie Atallah) and Jinane (Ruba Zaarour), she slowly comes to grips with what happened to her, and how social media has taken over the world. She realizes that she has woken up to a new world and a new, vibrant Beirut where everyone she's loved is different, and family secrets and lies begin to reveal themselves.

The Cast:
Flavia Bechara as Dana
Tarek Yaacoub as Ghassan
Mohamad Akil as Walid
Raymonde Azar as Mariam
Stephanie Atallah as Lama
Ruba Zaarour as Jinane
Joseph Bou Nassar as Dr Mehio
Camille Salameh as Fawzi
Lisa Debs as Nada

Production Credits:
Head Writer and Creator: Nadia Tabbara
Directed by: Mazen Fayad
Produced by: Mazen Fayad
Production & Distribution Company: Momaz Flick
Post Production Company: The Brightside
Director of Photography: Toni el Khazen
Music Composer: Nasser Shibani
Casting Director: Mia Deaibes
Editors: Youssef Germanos and Faisal Merheb
VFX Director: Nadine Yamout
Post-Production Producer: Marie-Christine Melhem

The Episodes:
Season One Episode Guide 
1-01 Episode One--
Absent for her life for eleven years, Dana rediscovers herself and her family.

1-02 Episode Two--
Dana's younger sister helps her write a resume and look for a job.

1-03 Episode Three--
Much to his dismay, Dana jumps into working at her father's mini-mart.

1-04 Episode Four--
Dana starts a new job while struggling to forgive her mother.

1-05 Episode Five--
Things get complicated when Dana re-kindles the flame with her ex.

1-06 Episode Six--
Imaginary Dana has disappeared and so has Dana's creative edge.

1-07 Episode Seven--
Dana's memory returns about arguing with her father the day she was injured by a car bomb.

1-08 Episode Eight--
Dana relapses into a coma but can still hear her family around her.

1-09 Episode Nine--
Dana returns to her with new clarity and notices things she's missed.

1-10 Episode Ten--
Chassen feels torn between Dana and his girlfriend.

1-11 Episode Eleven--
Joe returns to RPM and strikes up a friendship with Dana.

1-12 Episode Twelve--
Nour tells Lama about his family's massacre in Syria and how her father took him in.

1-13 Episode Thirteen--
Salary discrepancies at RPM cause Dara to suspect Ghassan of hiding info.

1-14 Episode Fourteen--
Dana asks Ghassan about the competition they entered as undergraduates.

1-15 Episode Fifteen--
Secrets spill out in an explosive discussion between Dana and her parents.

1-16 Episode Sixteen--
Furious about her discoveries, Dana attempts to control her story through TV interviews.


Review: 'Awake'

27 February, 2021

While I'm not going to claim to be an expert on the television industry in Lebanon, I have seen several shows in the past and my general reaction has been that the shows struggle to overcome very small budgets and limited resources. There are talented people working in Lebanon, but the quality of acting can be erratic from performer to performer and technical skills like editing and scoring can often seem clunky and not up to international industry standards.

All of those problems seem to have been overcome in 2019's Awake, which was created and written by Nadia Tabbara. The series revolves around Dana (played by Flavia Bechara) a woman who unexpectedly wakes up after spending 11 years in a coma. She doesn't remember much of what happened and as she struggles to recover physically and mentally, she also has to try and figure out where she fits in a new world filled with unexpected technology, an unfamiliar political climate and sisters who have been living their own lives for more than a decade. And then there's the matter of that imaginary Dana she keeps seeing at the most unsettling moments.

Awake deftly gets through Dana's awakening and year-long recovery in the first episode and then moves on to the challenges you would expect to see in a series that deals with the aftermath of a long coma. But as the series unfolds, Dana discovers her family and friends are holding on to some secrets that could threaten the new life she's built for herself. Among those secrets is the growing realization that the "accident" that put her in a coma might not have been as accidental as she has been told.

I've seen eight of the season's 16 episodes - MHz is releasing two more a week through the end of March. But from what I've seen so far, Awake is well worth watching. The acting is over-all first rate. Flavia Bechara's handling of the complexities of Dana's life took a bit of getting used to for me. At first, she seemed timid in a way that didn't seem to fit. But as the episodes rolled out, I understood her choices better and realized that the hesitancy was more a reflection of the character than an acting choice.

The biggest standout for me was Stephanie Atallah, who plays Dana's younger sister Alma. She's bright and complex and has that on-camera charisma that fills every scene she's in. She's certainly compelling enough to make the move to international productions and I hope she gets her chance.

Watching a subtitled TV series from Lebanon might sound like a daunting task, but Awake is worth it. It's not just good television, it's a look at a society and lifestyle that isn't often seen in America.  It's another example of the growing trend of quality TV coming from unexpected places.

Awake is currently streaming on MHz Choice.