The Fever – A Personal Awakening – DVD Review

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Carlo Gabriel Nero

Vanessa Redgrave….Woman
Angelina Jolie….Revolutionary
Michael Moore….Reporter
Rade Serbedzija….Diplomat

HBO Films presents a Shawn Fever/Blumhouse production of The Fever: A Personal Awakening. Screenplay by Wallace Shawn. Directed by Carlo Gabriel Nero. Based on the play by Wallace Shawn. Running time: 83 minutes. Unrated.

The Movie
In movies personal awakenings are usually spurred by some kind of tragedy; the death of a loved one or the witnessing of some kind of violent, seemingly senseless act. In the real world, though, awakenings don’t need such drama to happen–it could be something as simple as an unkind word or an overheard conversation. This is what happens to Vanessa Redgrave’s character, Woman. While attending an art gallery, a friend begins talking about class differences and the uselessness of the rich. Like a virus, this simple rant changes the way that Redgrave feels about her life, her world, and her soul.

Based on the play by Wallace Shawn (quick movie trivia: Shawn played Vizzini in The Princess Bride along with many other roles), The Fever centers on Redgrave’s newfound and rather late awareness of class and her inability to reconcile her guilt over being one of the “haves” while still trying to think of herself as a good person. The film begins and ends with her in a rundown hotel room in a nameless small country in the middle of a civil war, and while there are other actors and actresses in the production, everything centers on Redgrave. Thankfully she holds the movie together with a strong, sometimes painful performance.

The unnamed countries Redgrave visits hold qualities of many different places. At one airport she is greeted by a girl handing out flower necklaces, much like Hawaiian leis. A marketplace she passes through–full of armed revolutionaries–looked like it could have been shot in Havana. And the blasted landscape of the war-torn country resembles villages in Afghanistan and Sarajevo. More than likely the producers were intentionally trying to bring these places to mind and create a conglomerate country so everyone could identify with it on some level, but I actually found it made those sections of the movie seem almost dreamlike, like Redgrave was visiting a fantasy country.

However, that is really a minor complaint for a powerful, sometimes disturbing movie. Like Redgrave, I began to question my position in life and how I reached this point. And at the end, I felt almost as lost as Woman.

At times watching the enormity of the conflict between rich and poor, have and have not was overwhelming. This is a great, thought-provoking drama that does not give any easy answers. It raises very important questions about class conflict and shows the extremes of both sides. This is one of those movies that should be watched with a friend, because inevitably you will want to talk about what you saw, which, probably, is what it set out to do in the first place.


This production was presented in 16:9 aspect ratio. The production quality was high and I noticed no flaws.

The audio tracks were Dolby 2.0 with English and Spanish language choices. The sound was centered on the center channel and there was practically no directionality, but since this is a quiet, dialog-driven movie, that is not an issue.

Extra Features
No extra features.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for
The Fever: A Personal Awakening
(OUT OF 10)