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Ashley Judd gives a remarkable performance in this film but there are
lots of other reasons to see it. Indeed, the music is very good, and
there is a CD soundtrack (I checked Amazon as soon as I came home).
There are many painful moments as an extended and frayed family tries to talk to each other, or avoid it. It's about being stuck in old patterns and being clueless about making changes, no matter how old the people are.
I know one reason the film got local buzz is because it was filmed here, but as someone who hasn't lived in AR long, I was just an average movie goer looking to see Judd in something that was not a highly charged thriller. Ruby in Paradise (1993) was the first time I ever saw her, and that film about how to survive when no matter what you do doesn't seem enough, showed her talent. Come Early Morning evoked the same feelings.
The whole project seems a labor of love, love of real people living ordinary lives and doing the best they can.
There are no true jerks in this film, and that's at odds with reality, but otherwise this is an incredibly affecting film about an ordinary woman on the attractive side who frequents the local tavern looking for a quick tumble and one too many drinks. I've somehow met women like this though I'm not sure when and where. But Ashley Judd is so completely convincing and skilled at bringing this woman's story to the screen that I was completely won over. My wife likes her movies, but I've always found them a bit off the mark whenever I've seen one. In this film Joey Lauren Adams has done a truly worthwhile bit of directing and writing in shining a light on a small town story. The audience at Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival where I just saw it on the big screen seemed as appreciative as I was. She was heartily applauded when she came on to describe how this little gem was put together, and I, for one, was glad she was there to gather in the public appreciation. But I would have liked to have seen Ashley Judd too. Joey pointed out that she originally wanted to play the lead, but there's no question in my mind that no one could have nailed it like Ashley did. The supporting actors add spice and depth with quality and economy, but this is Ashley's show, and she does a wonderful job that's kicked her permanently up a few notches in my book. For once I sat through what I consider a chick flick and not only did I not fall asleep but felt truly entertained. Now that's a first, but let's not make a habit of it!
COME EARLY MORNING is not only a marvelous Joey Lauren Adams film, but
is something which an audience can empathize with in watching the sun's
rays fall upon Ashley Judd as she wakes up next to a man that she has
long forgotten from the night before. With early morning, the film is
about facing your demons and the truth about yourself and your past.
Ms. Judd nails her character to a "T" and the supporting cast is really wonderful in bringing out her past and more importantly, about what she has attempted to accomplish in her young life in a male world. The film is painful, and yet also joyous, in watching the journey which Judd has taken in gaining self worth, and happiness. The last scene is rich and memorable for a film heavy with pathos, pain and anger.
COME EARLY MORNING brings Ashley Judd front and center in her career as an important and talented actress in American cinema.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
2006 Sundance Film Festival Come Early Morning opens with Lucy (Ashley
Judd) waking up in the morning at a hotel in bed with a guy whose name
she does not know. We soon learn this is normal for her. Lucy lives in
a small town in the south, does a fine job helping oversee construction
projects, drives an old pick-up truck, shares a small house with a
roommate (Laura Prepon, from That 70's Show), dutifully takes care of
her aging relatives, is estranged from her father, regularly visits the
one bar in town, drinks a lot and gets sloppy drunk and sleeps with
The plot is a little predictableLucy meets a guy and he hopes to help her out of this cycle and that proves to be rough on both of them and the relationship almost falls apart but then just before the credits roll they reconcile and I think everyone lives happily ever after.
Written and directed by Joey Lauren Adams (the memorable Alyssa from Chasing Amy), Come Early Morning is a reflection of her Southern Baptist upbringing and was shot in locations that were personal to her. Ashley Judd is excellent in the film and the supporting cast includes such veteran talents as Tim Blake Nelson, Stacy Keach and Diane Ladd, not to mention another southern boy, Ray McKinnon, who plays a local Holy Roller preacher.
While not a great film, it was a warm, entertaining and well-produced movie that told a genuine story about a complex character caught in an ugly rut. It also has a wonderful soundtrack, although it's not clear how much of that will survive when they have to pay for the rights for national release.
Tidbits from the Sundance Q&A: Joey Lauren Adams was frank and refreshing. She said she did the movie because she wasn't getting any good acting opportunities and realized she needed to do something in her life besides hang out. The bar that's featured in the movie is the same one she goes to when she visits her home town, and one of the houses featured is owned by her grandparents, I think.
COME EARLY MORNING marks the writing and directing debut of Joey Lauren
Adams who elects to share a bit of her birthplace atmosphere in
Arkansas and while the story is sound and the writing evocative of the
personal turmoil of little towns populated by good but bored people,
there is nothing new here. But just the opportunity to see gifted
actress Ashley Judd strut her stuff is reason enough to watch this
little film and makes us wonder where has she been since her 2004 stint
in 'De-Lovely'. She is just too fine an actress not to be given more
Lucy Fowler (Judd) lives in a little Arkansas town, a successful contractor with boss Owen Allen (Stacy Keach, another underused fine actor), but a woman without a firm attachment to her fragmented family: her shy and sequestered father (Scott Wilson) has returned to town where he hides in alcohol and steps out only for Holy Roller church services; her grandmothers Doll (Candyce Hinkle) is unstable and keeps to herself and Nana (Diane Ladd) remains in a mutually abusive marriage; and her uncle Tim (Tim Blake Nelson) who is the only stalwart member of the clan. Lucy lives with her friend Kim (Laura Prepon) who understands Lucy's shortcomings: unable to form relationships, Lucy spends her weekends getting drunk at the local tavern and sleeping with anonymous men whom she deserts a dawn.
But things change when Lucy encounters Cal Percell (Jeffrey Donovan) who provides her with the first semblance of normalcy in her relationships with men, a frightening new step she abuses by entering into her drinking mode again. Lucy begins to make changes in her view of her family, her fear of being the mirror image of her father, in her work, and in the way she views men. And the film just trails off leaving us wondering what life will now be like.
Adams has a fine handle on her subject and creates dialog that feels like it should: her election to make such a fine three-dimensional character out of Lucy's father who barely has a line to say is much to her credit (and the strong performance by Scott Wilson!). But in the end it is the pleasure of seeing Ashley Judd in a meaty role that makes the difference. Grady Harp
The DVD box promises us "the best performance of her career," and I'd
agree with that 100%. Too bad this fine movie was saddled with a deadly
non-commercial title, too bad the DVD is supposedly a "Blockbuster
exclusive" which limits its availability. Too bad the summary on the
box is dishonest; most likely just because some good movies are hard to
JUDD plays a 30-something woman who often wakes up in a stranger's bed after several-too-many beers in a country music honky tonk. The story is about how she finds her way --- after a few stumbling blocks --- after her sister tells her that getting to know a guy such as his middle name and where he's from isn't so bad.
The marvel of the movie is a screenplay that follows her everyday life in a Southern town without ever resorting to anything but on-the-level events and interactions. Never boring, always involving, this is JUDD'S movie. She's on camera 99% of the running time. This is a brilliant portrait of a woman.
Lots of country music in the background. Good stuff, with lots of heart and sorrow; not the Kenney Chesney-like trash we hear on the radio these days with no tune and nothing lyrics; just loud. Old stuff, new stuff; but good stuff. Amen!
Saw this at the Chicago Film Festival and it was a great experience.
The movie is a glimpse into the life and relationships of Lucy (Ashley
Judd). I went in thinking it was going to be very intense and sad
(especially after seeing some of the movie stills) and was very
pleasantly surprised at the descriptive intense way the complex Lucy
was portrayed and the light feel of the movie despite some very unhappy
circumstances. I left the movie feeling like I got to know a good
person and had some hope - but didn't see Hollywood clichés or forced
happily ever afters.
The writer/director Joey Lauren Adams didn't take any shortcuts and quite happily didn't try to make a movie that appealed to everyone. This is a "real" southern town with "real" people. In the after movie question and answer session with Ms. Adams, she said it would be an interesting exercise to re-shoot the entire movie, keeping the dialog, with a man in the lead role. I keep going back to that . I'd love to hear/see/read the different reactions of critics and audiences to the male and female versions of "Lucy".
Talented Joey Lauren Adams wrote and directed this marvelous slice-of-life about a hard, stubborn, unapologetic young woman's journey to finding some self-worth in her quietly turbulent existence; she attempts to get her head in a good place and make peace with the past, but learns it doesn't all come into play overnight. Ashley Judd is just wonderful in this role: gritty, tremulous, tough but never dumbed-down. She evokes just the right touch of devil-may-care recklessness with a kind of horse-sense which should resonate with a lot of viewers. If you ever come across this theatrical film playing on the Lifetime TV network, don't be fooled into thinking it's a cable-quickie. Adams puts a lot of thought into her prose (sometimes too much, as the conversations have a tendency to have an already-worked-out give and take). The film is flawed, certainly, yet its scattershot hopefulness permeates through, and the performances are rich and memorable. A rewarding character-study, and a small triumph for both creator Adams and star Judd, marking a welcome return to serious acting. *** from ****
very good movie, added depth to Ashley's acting! hidden gem, Im so glad I came across it! its a little sad, dysfunction in a small town and inside a woman who learns about love, and loving herself. A very real character, that is flawed, Im not sure how it did with awards but I think it was over looked. Its a drama that is focused on relationships in one woman's life. its a very smart movie that you have to think about, not everything is spelled out for you. but I think its not to far out there for most people to understand! I love movies that don't give you a Hollywood ending, this movie is more about people you could know or do. I have watched it 3 times and will again1
Its one of the best movies Ashley Judd has done. She's very natural and likable in this movie. The movie of in itself is superb. A must see. Congratulations to Ashley Judd. The movie is at its best in that it represents everyday life. There's nothing better than seeing a close true based story. I believe the more natural and heart warming a film is the more people will enjoy seeing it and having it at home. Just like songs. People like to hear true tales that touch people within themselves onto which something they can relate to. In my opinion, the more down to earth a movie and a lead actor gets, the more people want to come to movie theaters. Simple answer.
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