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Five days in the life of an American couple immediately following the accidental death of their child. An every day story of tragedy, loss, acceptance, hope and renewal. 'Morning' follows the divergent paths of Mark (Leland Orser) and Alice Munroe (Jeanne Tripplehorn) as they circle each other in a heart-breaking pas-de-deux of grief before finally coming to grips with their shared loss. Written by
Not a lot happens in this movie. The pacing is slow and lugubrious. Slow enough that you'll have time to leaf through a dictionary and pick up words like 'lugubrious'. And in the end there's no "wow finish" that explains everything and ties it all up in a tight bundle.
And that's exactly why I liked this movie. Initially I feared a heavy handed, cliché, obvious story of mourning. The somewhat obvious "clever" title Morning didn't exactly put my fears to rest. But 5 minutes into the film I knew this was no Hollywood sap. It begins with cryptic, wordless scenes of an old woman leaving her home, getting on a bus, getting off and walking a long way, interspersed with close up shots of a water spigot, a fishbowl, etc. We realize immediately that we're going to have to work to understand this film. In the tradition of the big K's (Kubrick, Kurosawa, Kieslowski, Kitano... especially Takeshi Kitano) we are forced to piece things together from seemingly unrelated fragments with no narrative and very little dialogue to hand-hold us.
The story is told in 5 chapters, simply titled One, Two, Three, Four and After, each of which shows us a successive day in the lives of a married couple dealing with loss. The loss is not spelled out for us but it gradually becomes clear as we gather all the clues. The fact that the loss is not specifically known to us allows us to observe the man & woman from an objective point of view. Unlike the standard movie formula of first making us become emotionally attached to the characters, and then hitting us with a tragedy for maximum tear-jerking effect, "Morning" unravels in the opposite direction.
It takes a bold filmmaker to do so, and I think the effort was a great success. However, I would say that this film is for people who are already acquainted with "the damaged human psyche" whether by profession, association with someone afflicted, or having been (or currently being) afflicted yourself. Those in the audience who are unfamiliar with the phenomenon may find themselves fidgeting in their seats for 95 mins, wondering why these people are acting so weird.
I've seen a few films dealing directly with trauma, loss & depression, and "Morning" ranks among the best. If this subject interests you, I also recommend Takeshi Kitano's "Dolls", Philippe Claudel's "I've Loved You So Long", Hideaki Anno's "Ritual", or "Helen" starring Ashley Judd. On the lighter side check out "Numb" with Matthew Perry from Friends, or check out "The Last Word" about a guy who earns a living by writing suicide notes for other people. All of these films deal with the intense, dark subject of the damaged human mind. If that phrase doesn't scare you off, definitely give them a watch.
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