Friday, September 27, 2013

Movie with Abe: Morning

Directed by Leland Orser
Released September 27, 2013

Loss can be dealt with in film in many different ways. Often the impact of someone no longer being there can be felt even more if that person is first portrayed as being alive, and only gradually, or suddenly, do they disappear from the world. In some cases, it can be just as effective to start one they’re already gone. Actor Leland Orser takes that approach in his feature film debut, directing an expanded version of his 2007 short, which showcases two devastated parents grieving the loss of their child.

Not much is said during “Morning,” and certainly not much in its opening few minutes. Orser and Jeanne Tripplehorn portray Mark and Alice, who have trouble coping with each other. Mark sits at home unable to complete any simple task, while Alice ventures out into the world, interacting frequently with people who have no idea about what she has gone through and say unknowingly insensitive things which only send her further over the edge. This is a staggering and disheartening portrait of grief, one which never offers a glimmer of hope, instead delving into its characters’ pain and the utter misery they feel.

It is difficult to get into “Morning” because it starts from such a low point and proceeds as if viewers comprehend and sympathize with its characters. While that is not an unreasonable assumption, Mark and Alice are never shown in their normal states, actually happy with one another and living life to its full potential, ignorant of the tragedy that will eventually affect them. The film’s material is relatively inaccessible because its characters are not relatable, seen only at their worst and never portrayed as anything but miserable.

Orser and Tripplehorn are both talented actors who have appeared recently on television. In their roles here, they commit to making these characters feel genuine and raw, but it’s still hard to connect to them. In small parts, Laura Linney, Kyle Chandler, Jason Ritter, Elliott Gould, and Julie White contribute to the ensemble as various individuals who come into contact with Alice as she wanders around her world trying to deal with her loss while Mark wallows at home. The significance of the subject matter here should not be understated, but this is not an effective treatment of it, unable to evoke the kind of emotion and reaction its content should.


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