Paul Thomas has created a modern masterpiece with The Awakening, inspired by the true story of a 1970s adult firm star who turned to new age religion to calm her sexual discontent before eventually committing suicide. Emotionally stunning, this psychological story of sexual healing ranks with Thomas' best work, like The Masseuse, Bad Wives, Justine and Bobby Sox.
Inari Vachs delivers a stunning performance as the sexually confused starlet, as does Kobe Tai as her ex-junkie singer friend. Both deserve pre-noms for Best Actress. Equally good is Bobby Vitale, with a career-best performance as the link between the two girls that easily earns him a Best Actor pre-nom, as well.
Vachs is nearly paralyzed in a car accident that kills her boyfriend after she gives him head, and after going through a wheelchair and other convalescent devices, is miraculously cured (Vitale fucks her and the feeling returns in her legs). She ventures off to pursue her faux religious dreams, while Kobe Tai's singing career leads her back into drugs. The parallel stories collide near the end of the film with two passionate climaxes.
Inari's character stumbles between passion and pity, never more fully realized than when Vitale finds her thrashing herself with a cat-o-nine-tails. She's sexy and natural -- definitely fuckable, but a tragic character. Rarely do you find such exquisite character development in an adult film.
While the three leads all deserve kudos, Tyce Buné should also be prenominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the new age preacher, a modern-day Jamie Gillis who cures, steals money from and jerks off on the feet of Kobe Tai after she has overdosed.
Sexually, everything in Awakening works beautifully, including many scenes which also grab pre-noms. Inari Vachs swelters in two anal scenes, one with Michael J. Cox and the other with Vitale. A stylized fourway art-deco scene featuring Bobby Vitale, Dascha (Vivid's new contract girl), Taylor St. Claire and Kimberlee is one of the best group scenes in the tape; and Kobe gets nailed in the ass by Vitale after he helps her shoot heroin. Tai's min-gang bang (by three guys) at the end of the film is as nasty a scene as she's ever appeared in, and the lasting image of 20 guys lined up outside her van waiting for their piece is as disturbing at it is hot.
Awakening should be applauded for a great script by David Stanley and the usual fine production value you'd find in a Paul Thomas movie; excellent editing, cinematography and art direction.
As the century closes, 1999 may mark the real resurgence of the adult film, as there have been several truly great movies released this year. Awakening complicates the Best Film Award category even more as it is truly a remarkable achievement.