Debra Winger as Dawn Anna Townsend in Dawn Anna (2005)

A New Dawn

I came to watch "Dawn Anna", a true story movie, with the minimum of knowledge; in fact all I knew was that it was about a single mum who is faced with several obstacles. Now I am sure there are those who have watched "Dawn Anna" already knowing the bigger story and it is easy to find out what that bigger story is with a little internet search but I am not going to mention it. Why? Well in truth it will mean you will watch "Dawn Anna" with certain expectations and that could spoil what is one of the most beautiful yet heart-breaking and powerful movies I have watched. Having said that if you do watch "Dawn Anna" without knowing the bigger picture you will find yourself at one point wondering why the story of Dawn Anna deserved to be made into a movie, although it certainly becomes clear.

Dawn Anna (Debra Winger - Forget Paris) is a single mum raising 4 children and together they work as a closely knit family, supporting each other so that when Dawn gets a full time teaching job and is offered extra work coaching volley ball the children are there to take over the jobs that she would have done. Whilst son Josh (Sam Howard) initially finds it difficult when Dawn meets Bink (Alex Van) he grows to like him especially when Dawn is struck down by a brain tumour and he is there supporting the family like the rest of them, aiding their mum in her recovery after surgery left her unable to speak or walk. But that is just one of the obstacles which Dawn and her family have to face as the years go by.

Alex Van as Bink in Dawn Anna (2005)

There are two parts to "Dawn Anna" the first part which I have summarised in that synopsis and the second part which happens in 1999, 5 years after we first meet the family. Now the first part is heart warming because whilst we see Dawn struck down by a brain tumour we get to witness what a special family she has raised. Even before the tumour episode watching the children and Dawn unite to make sure things run smoothly is brilliant and when they are there supporting her every step of the way following surgery it is even more heart warming. I don't know about you but in a way it made me jealous that here is a family who are so close that there is no bickering just support and friendly ribbing.

Now the thing is that if you watch "Dawn Anna" without any knowledge of where this story leads you begin to wonder where it is going and why despite being a marvellous story it is worthy of being made into a movie. And then the story jumps 5 years to 1999 and certain life changing events which turn "Dawn Anna" into a heart-breaking but also heart-warming and touching movie. I am not going to say what those events are despite it being easy to find out but when you watch "Dawn Anna" without prior knowledge it is shocking. And it is also handled brilliantly because whilst it draws an emotional response from you, you never feel manipulated because to be honest during that first half of the movie you become one of the family and feel the pain with them.

Now every single performance is brilliant and the actors who play the children as well as Alex Van who plays Bink deserve so much praise, especially during the second half of the story. But the star of "Dawn Anna" is Debra Winger who to put it simply is marvellous making Dawn Anna this wonderful woman, smart, comical, hard working, tough yet vulnerable and it is because of this we instantly warm to her. But we also feel her pain, not just in the second half but the scenes following Dawn's brain surgery are tough going and it is a realistic performance from Winger when it comes to Dawn's slow recovery from the surgery.

What this all boils down to is that "Dawn Anna" is a pretty special movie and one most certainly worth watching. What I will say is that if you don't know the full story then watch it without finding out and if you do know the bigger story then watch it realising it is not just about that but the amazing story of Dawn and her family.