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“Passion of Mind” — Like Tonight’s Premiere TV Show, “Awake”

posted by Nell Minow

Jason Isaacs (“Harry Potter’s” Lucius Malfoy) stars in “Awake,” a new drama series premiering tonight on NBC.  He plays a man who survived an automobile accident that split his life in two. In one, his wife was killed in the crash but his son survived.  In the other, it is his son who was killed, but his wife survived.  In each, he sees a different therapist (Broadway stars Cherry Jones and BD Wong).  He knows that one must be a dream and one must be real, but he cannot tell which is which.

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 There’s a Demi Moore film with the same theme called Passion of Mind, and I consider it a guilty pleasure. The plot is “Sliding Doors” crossed with the fairy tale of the dancing princesses with a touch of “Truly Madly Deeply.” Demi Moore plays a woman with two lives: Marty, a successful New York career woman and Marie, an American widow living in the French countryside with her two daughters. Every night, when Marty goes to sleep, she dreams of Maria’s life in France, and when Marie goes to sleep, she becomes Marty in New York. Both wonder which is real, and each is afraid to find out. The two lives echo each other, and each seems to provide something missing in the other. But one thing is missing in both – love. Marty meets Aaron (William Fitchner) and Marie meets William (Stellan Skarsgård). At first, the two storylines provide counterpoint. One relationship becomes physically intimate. The other becomes emotionally intimate because she tells him of her double life. Then both relationships deepen and the two lives begin to provide some resolution for one another. Items from one life begin turning up in the other. She begins to understand that she can take what she needs from her dreams and make it work in real life. It is very schmaltzy. But I found myself beguiled by its unabashed romanticism. There are some nice subtle touches – the clusters of hats, Marty’s relationship with her therapist, Marie’s relationships with her daughters and her confidant – and the resolution has some psychological validity, at least in movie terms. I’m glad to see those themes being explored in this new show.

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