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The Hidden Review: Awareness - Prime video Movie - Film Review
“I thought I was the one creating illusions for everybody else”
The THR has watched the Prime Video original Spanish Sci-fi Feature Film Awareness written by Ivan Ledesma and Daniel Benmayor (who also directed it). Ian switches from the stereotypical teenage loner to having a menacingly powerful look in his eyes very well at the start. However, his desire for impacted returns from the heists, rather than just getting the crumbs, makes him seem more unlikeable. He could surely use his powers for good but only seemingly uses them for his survivalist, selfish reasons.
His father Vicente is a likeable character as he genuinely loves his son by saying that he is the only one that matters in his life, always guiding him. Vicentes deep and gravelly voice is the perfect mixture for this character, who appears to have the wisdom that Ian has followed so methodically up to now. Ian cares for his Dad, revealing on numerous occasions, making him more three-dimensional, sympathetic, and less self-centred.
Initially, there was a great contrast between the vast water and tight urban space that Ian and his father ran and drove down to pull off their heist. The two locations always give a sense of risk of being caught, either because of the closeness of the urban space or when, in open space, the idea that something could always be lurking in the distance. Moreover, another place where the location stood out was the arcade, with its evocative purple colour giving a feel of mysterious power and ambition.
The constant photo of Ian’s mother was also a clever highlight. The beauty of her pure blonde hair is a very contrasting element to all the other character's hair colours, possibly symbolising their lack of moral innocence compared to hers.
Vicente has an interesting moral code for Ian’s use of his powers: "Don’t bring attention to yourself, and don’t play tricks on your family".
The idea of a father teaching outlandish rules and ideas to his son reminds sometimes of Harry Morgan in the US TV series Dexter. Harry teaches his adopted son (the title character) how to channel his psychopathic urges to kill bad people only.
However, Awareness did not feel engaging, as the stakes did not seem as high as being in a laboratory compared to a life of peace, and it did not seem as intriguing as a psychopath taught to use his darkness for good while not getting caught. As this story progresses, however, the stakes arise, and Ian’s sense of morality is under further scrutiny.
Ian has more of a sympathetic side compared to the Perceptor, whose first unspoken appearances instantly convey a malevolent menace just through his eyes. His later dialogue with Ian intensifies his listener's confusion as he struggles to process another new reality. Oscar Jaenada acted superbly in the preceptor role throughout. When the preceptor explains his side of the story and the origins of The Mule, one huge question that arises is who is on Ian’s side and who isn’t, adding a superb extra dimension at that critical moment.
Ian becomes more empathetic towards others and a sympathetic character for the audience as the story progresses, and we see the sudden weight on his shoulders. A person wanting to know who and what he is is a human reaction when our world is shattered, especially as a teenager. This part could have shown a bit more outward emotion initially, but the character's subtle impassiveness in the middle is probably a part of who shows off and what makes him such an enigma. Carlos Scholz does unpeel Ian’s layers brilliantly as the story heads for its climax, and it is there that we see the great range he has as an actor. However, perhaps some scenes don’t help him in having the chance to use it very often at the beginning.
The director uses music and sound effectively throughout. The eerie sound when the character of Adrianna is first seen watching the CCTV is terrific, and the slow cover version of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds during Ian’s dream sequence is an incredible contradiction: We know Ian and everyone around him should be worried, so that is a very clever symbolic choice that purposefully highlights the opposite through the song lyrics. Later on, Ian's attachment to Three Little Birds is used in an incredibly tender moment, making it a brilliantly moving song choice that captures the scene perfectly.
However, even among the emotions, there was still such a jam-packed mix of violent reality and fantasy in the immediate aftermath. But those less emotive, character-driven moments could lead to a loss of interest throughout the story.
At the same time, these moments keep asking the question: Who is on Ian's side? While the film intended to not be black and white with much of this, that ambiguity could somewhat spoil all that beautiful tenderness beforehand. The viewer may feel robbed of a satisfying conclusion where they know definitively who the antagonists are.
Throughout the story, it was possible to connect with characters (in certain stages) because of the very human themes reflecting family, identity, and conflicting morality.
However, some scenes still didn’t impress enough to make it believable.
Overall, the actor's performances were strong, as their characters had moments where a viewer could feel empathy, sympathy, fear and hatred towards them in equal measure.
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