Starring Jeanne Tripplehorn, Leland Orser, Laura Linney, Elliott Gould, Kyle Chandler, Jason Ritter, Charlie McDermott, Julie White, Gina Morelli, Katie Traina, Sawyer Ellis White, Ewan Chung, Ellis Williams, Lydia Blanco and Susan Dalian.
Screenplay by Leland Orser.
Directed by Leland Orser.
Distributed by Anchor Bay Films. 95 minutes. Rated R.
The loss of a child is the most devastating thing that could ever befall a parent.
And Morning never exactly tells us how (or even, definitively if) the son of its central suburban couple died. It just drops us into the middle of the mourning with no warning. It isn’t until a half hour that the film even suggests that there was a child who may no longer be there. Before that, it just seems like you are meeting two extremely disturbed, emotionally numb people, with no real context to why they are behaving as they are.
It takes a good bit for the audience to get its footing with these characters. Do we like them? Do we pity them? Who are they? Why are they acting like they do? Do they like each other? Do they hate each other? What is wrong with them?
Little by little the film drops little nuggets of knowledge as to what exactly is causing their extremely disturbed-seeming actions, but we never get the full picture.
It’s a rather tricky piece of storytelling, one that is periodically successful, but also one that risks alienating audiences in the early going.
Morning is the writing and directing debut of veteran character actor Leland Orser, who has played supporting roles in the likes of Taken, Se7en and 24. Beyond his role behind the scenes in Morning, he plays the male lead here.
Orser the writer certainly does not take it easy on Orser the actor. He is on screen for almost half the film’s running time, melting down in spectacular fashion, but almost always alone, and with perhaps two or three lines of dialogue in the entire film.
At least he has more lines than Gina Morelli, who plays the couple’s stalwart housekeeper. She is also onscreen for quite a while — coming to work, going home, trying futilely to get inside, lighting candles, piling up the newspapers at the door, trying to soothe the man of the house — and she does not speak a single word the whole time.
Both actors are able to convey much without words. Particularly Morelli’s determined, doleful and soulful eyes speak volumes. Her pantomime role is much less flashy than Orser’s silent hysterics and suffering, but somehow its quiet strength connects even more solidly.
However, the film really centers around the wife, and Jeanne Tripplehorn is a numbed, bruised revelation in the role. She takes a woman who is totally, devastatingly lost and conveys her desperate need to move forward in life despite a gnawing, overwhelming sense of guilt and grief. Throughout the film, Tripplehorn convinces you that she is not really hearing or comprehending what is going on around her, but she vitally needs to connect with someone or something.
Morning also has some nice supporting performances by Laura Linney as a grief counselor who recognizes someone in great pain when she randomly meets the wife, Jason Ritter as a sweet-natured hotel clerk, Elliott Gould as a sympathetic but slightly obtuse doctor, Julie White as the best friend who is trying to overcompensate in protecting her and Charlie McDermott as the friend’s son who naturally reminds her of what may have been with her son.
After setting such a charged and huge psychological hurdle for the couple, honestly Morning‘seventual epiphany feels a bit too sudden and easily gained. However, it is just a first step, these two will be trying to heal for a long time.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2013 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 25, 2013.