Greetings again from the darkness. Every young filmmaker should be so fortunate to have Dianne Wiest and David Oyelowo accept roles in their first feature film. With what appears to be little more than an outline for a script, these two top notch actors bring the weight necessary to make us care about their characters … neither being especially likable.
Written and directed by Maris Curran, it’s a story of two people working through their grief and guilt, unable to share the burden due to their inability to get past their own feelings. When a woman dies in a car crash, her husband Sherwin (David Oyelowo) and mother Lucinda (Dianne Wiest) are both devastated. Sherwin tries to drown his depression with non-stop boozing, and ultimately accepts Lucinda’s invitation to visit her in rural Maine (a long way from his home in Atlanta).
The two have never gotten along with each other, and it turns out they each had a strained relationship with the now deceased wife/daughter. What follows are some uncomfortable dinners and conversations punctuated with much awkward silence … or cruelly pointed comments from cancer-stricken Lucinda. An unusually reserved and charming Rosie Perez is at her least obnoxious in the limited role of Lucinda’s nurse (and Sherwin’s confidante).
There are few things that waste more energy than a competition over who deserves to grieve more. In fact, Lucinda has a line where she states that being a parent brings out the worst in people … in this movie, that holds true for grieving as well. These two characters are not their best selves as they struggle to come to grips with the gaping hole that now exists in their lives.
“It should have been me” is not an uncommon thought for those who have experienced the loss of a loved one … especially if they are haunted by the past. The sub-plot of the marital battle over whether to have kids becomes much easier to understand as we get to know Lucinda. As talented as Ms. Wiest and Mr. Oyelowo are, it still would have been nice to have a tighter script, and director Curran could have backed off the relentless hand-held close-ups without sacrificing the solitude and intimacy. Beyond that, she does have some good insight into the process of mourning, and how so many people hold those emotions down deep.