“Awake” – A Stepping Stone For Lebanese Drama Series
Heads-up: This is NOT a full review, but rather simply, a personal opinion I want to express as I got excited after having only watched two episodes at the time I’m writing this article. So please don’t expect a complete review format, and perhaps more to come later after the series has ended airing.
For as long as I can remember, I would start watching any given Lebanese series, and right of the bat, I would get either bored or disappointed. The reason mostly would be the bad acting, the dull scenario, or simply the sense of detachment from reality. I would barely make it through the first episode, and in some cases – not even joking – I wouldn’t survive the first few minutes of the first episode.
Well, I’m writing this to say that my faith in Lebanese TV series has been restored, by this new series “Awake – Wa’eet” on OSN and Wavo powered by OSN, thanks to the serious efforts put into this series by the dedicated team that has pushed the envelope working on it, while at the same time raising the bar with today’s standards in TV drama.
Full disclaimer: I was NOT paid in any way shape or form to write this article. It is purely driven by my sense of excitement and rejoice by what I am seeing so far.
I also need to mention that, in some capacity or another, I personally know a few people who have worked on this series, specifically Nadia Tabbara (the creator), Mazen Fayad (the director), Flavia Bechara (the main actress), Mohamad Akil (father of Flavia’s character), Nadine Yamout (the VFX director), Marie-Christine Melhem (Post-Production Producer), Faisal Merheb (the colorist and one of the 2 editors).
So, having that said, I retain that I’m writing the following in all honesty and objectivity.
“The events revolve around Dana played by Flavia Bechara, a woman who was involved in an accident and wakes up from what seems to be a very long coma only to discover that the world around her has drastically changed — how is she going to catch up and fit in like she once did?” – That was the plot of the series as described by Maria Sakr in an article on An-Nahar website when the series was still underway.
About The Story
Even though so far, only two episodes have aired, I can say already that the story is very bold, modern, and very relatable to the viewer.
The screenplay is just brilliant. I’m not saying it’s perfect, nothing ever is. However, when you watch the first 10 minutes of the first episode and you’re already hooked to the main character, and want to know the rest of the story, that says a lot.
The cinematography is very impressive. The camera angles and movements speak to each scene and to the current emotional state the characters are in with each shot of each scene.
The VFX are highly advanced and aesthetically-pleasing. A little hint; they are not used just to impress, but as the camera angles and movements go with the cinematography language, the VFX are used where they needed to be used, and they are attached to the story and the emotional state of the character.
Editing & Music
Here is another comparison worth mentioning with the average TV series where the editing and the music try so hard to take the dialogue and acting to another level. You’d be watching a very normal scene that has too much cutting back and forth between characters with a background music that would be considered by many as too epic or dramatic for the scene. In “Awake” on the other hand, the editing and the music have a real modern style, with a very minimalistic approach to a point where it’s almost seamless, yet adds real value to the watching experience.
Directing & Acting
Now to the directing and acting, the real bread and butter to this whole industry. If I were to attach a one-word description to the directing and acting in this series, I would say “realism”. I would also dare to go as far as saying that this is the most believable performance I have seen in any Lebanese production, even for some of the actors in the series itself as compared to their performances in other productions I have seen them in. This is definitely the fruition of good planning, and the professional environment they were in while performing their scenes. I know it from personal experience that many films and drama series go into production ill prepared on a tight budget and even more squeezed production schedule, where actors mostly suffer the consequences of appearing as “unreal” because they had to perform under many pressures related to time and budgetary issues. Now, I don’t know what kind of budget “Awake” had, but it was clear to me that the actors were given the time they needed to prepare and rehearse for their scenes before going on to perform it.
Sponsorship & Product Placement
Thus far, the only negative thing I saw in these first two episodes was that product placement was pushed a little further than what I would prefer. Almost in every other scene there is a mention or appearance for one of the show’s sponsors. But then again, I can understand that because I know that support for arts and entertainment is very limited, and I’m sure that the producers had to do that in order to get the proper funding. So get ready to see a lot of that which I found to be by far the only thing that was a little bit too forced.
Main Cast & Crew
To wrap it up, I just want to say chapeau bas to all the cast and crew of “Awake”, with the hope that this would be a stepping stone for all Lebanese drama series and cinema.
• 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
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