The Awakening of Lilith
Refuge Films, 2020
Steven Adam Renkovish
📷 : Refuge Films
Movies and TV shows with heavy subjects
The processing of one’s grief after a major loss can take on many forms. Some choose to deny or evade their emotions. Others try to power through by continuing their routines as if nothing has changed. But another group remains in their state of grief for an extended period of time. With no support system or structure around them, they struggle to find the light at the end of the tunnel.
The Awakening of Lilith portrays a lonely, grieving widow struggling to find her footing after her partner Noah’s death. The non-linear story depicts its protagonist as a woman who places much of her self-worth into her significant other and struggles to find her sense of self in the aftermath of his passing. Lilith’s attempts to appease the depressed and irritable Noah reveal an imperfect union. She finds herself lacking purpose, and her social circle does little to pull her out of her tailspin. Renkovish’s framing conveys Lilith’s co-dependency, as in many scenes and still photographs of her with Noah, she is staring at him while he stares either into the camera or off into the distance.
The film couples its more nuanced elements with overt and often surreal moments. Lilith’s troubles include dark hallucinations, piercing verbal abuse from her mother and judgment from the members of her Bible study group. Her interactions, along with living in solitude, leave her in a disoriented and self-pitying state. While the more absurdist moments lend themselves to the horror genre, the film stays grounded in its relatable representation of how lost one can feel while mourning a traumatic event. As the film progresses, Lilith discovers ways to manage, illustrated by some of her diatribes and the arrival of a supportive friend. The conclusion suggests that Lilith has reached a crossroads where she may wade her way out of the grief or plunge right back into her depressed state, but there is a glimmer of hope for her to establish her independence.
Similar movies to The Awakening of Lilith include In the Bedroom, an early 2000s film starring Tom Wilkinson, Sissy Spacek and Marisa Tomei, in which an older couple struggles to cope with the murder of their son. On the more paranormal and surreal side of comparable projects is Ghost, the very popular Patrick Swayze-Demi Moore project from 1990. The Awakening of Lilith differs from both of these in the sense that Lilith lacks a true confidant to grieve with and, of course in the case of Ghost, cannot reconnect with her deceased significant other despite her best efforts.
The mind often plays tricks on you when in a state of grief. The way Renkovish's film addresses this is reminiscent of the critically acclaimed breakup movies, 500 Days of Summer and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In both films, the protagonists come to the realization that they have put their significant other on a steep pedestal with expectations that could never be met. If there is a common message behind all of these movies, it is to learn to love without losing yourself.