As a part of that sliver of life called humanity we are emotional creatures subject to a plethora of circumstances that make indelible marks on our psychological composition. Among the most intense is the death of a loved one. Even within that category there is variations of degree, it is generally accepted among scholarly psychologists and general perceptional that a parent experiencing the death of their child. The natural order of things typical holds that one generation supplants it progenitors. Parents are not supposed to outlive their children. Combined with the natural sense of loss and this tragic event can ignite emotional and psychological damage with profound, enduring impact. The independent film ‘Morning ‘picked up for distribution by Anchor Bay films is a poignant exploration of how a couple cope with this most tragic of all possible events we most face in life. The film distinguishes itself from other movies of similar themes is the way this story delves into the difficulty the living have with the grief and the individuality in how we process this darkest of emotional states.
Alice (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and Mark (Leland Orser) is a married couple whose relationship has been confronting the strain normally expected after a number of years together. Any equilibrium Alice and Mark may have managed to establish is crushed by the accidental death of their five year old son. The immediate reaction was to further wedge them apart pushing them in different directions. Mark has a means to at least temporarily removing himself from the home that until recently included the brightening presence of their child. Throwing himself into his job could not sufficiently provide the escape he had hoped for. His being left alone in the house alone only exasperated the sorrow pressing in on all sides of Mary. She must bear the constant reminders of their deceased son.
The couple spiral deeper into grief infused depression another psychological component frequently seen in the loss of a child increases; guilt. The fundamental job of a parent is to protect their children. Even if the death is a result of an accident the surviving parents frequently blame themselves as failing to keep their child safe from harm. At times like this it is usually best to seek out a support system. Here a couple of such venues were considered. Alice’s best friend, Mary (Julie White), tries to emotionally support her friend advising her to reenter the world. Eschewing the advice Alice withdraws even more, isolating herself by renting a hotel room moving there to avoid the constant reminder of her loss. When not held up in that self-imposed solitary confinement Alice wanders the local Mall in a mindless daze. The condition rapidly deteriorates to the point where medical intervention was an obvious necessity.
Alice is left with no other recourse Alice seeks the professional assistance of grief counselor Dr. Goodman (Laura Linney). As Alice fights to face her pain and discover some hope of catharsis Mark’s reaction is diametrically opposite and psychological dangerous. Unable to accept the tragedy on any level he seeks a respite from the burden of adulthoods parenting requires by emotionally regressing to a childlike state. It is as if he hopes to create a personality of the boy his son didn’t live to become. This dichotomy between how two people, undergoing the precisely identical tragedy filter it through their own unique perspective to manufacture an illusionary world where a means of psychologically evading the sorrowful event or at the very least make it possible to process it on some emotional level. Alice’s innate maternal instincts looped back upon her overwhelming her in a tsunami of self-doubt and guilt. For Mark the bond between one generation and the next, a deeply motivating element intrinsically ingrained in all fathers and sons, was brutally cut short, severed in its nascent stage before it could begin to take root. The life Mark imagined as father, friend and mentor would never be released. Just as his wife isolated herself physically in a small room of the hotel or the faceless anonymity of a shopping center, Mark regressed in a world contained within his own imagination where the boy could symbolically be the father of the man. In both cases they psychologically cocooned themselves as insulation from the painful emotional torrent. Unfortunately for their future as a couple these insulating contrivances were for the large part mutually exclusive. In order to begin to heal in earnest Mark and Alice will have to regain a relationship based on love an trust shoring up each other emotionally.
Some might argue that this film is tedious, pedantic tottering on the edge of boredom, while certain aspects of the presentation might be conducive to support such a conclusion, at least on a most cursory of levels such a sweeping generalization is s disservice to the solid collaboration attained by the filmmaker, Leland Orser, the male lead of the production. You are certain to find his face quite familiar but unless you are a season cinematic aficionado unable to associate it with a role. The reason is not in the sparseness of his approaches but quite the opposite. As a character actor, a career successful spanning over thirty years he has brought to life pivotal roles in movies ranging from ‘Taken’ to ‘Saving Private Ryan’ to television parts in popular series that run the gamut from ‘’ NYPD Blue’ to a feature spot on ‘Revolution’. Although usually cast as the coward or slightly deranged foil to the hero his experience with such a variety psychological states and an acting scope that realistically encompasses the full spectrum of human emotional expression he is an ideal choice meet and accede that full scope of this role. Has such professional and highly effective chameleon he could not have been better paired than he is here opposite a seasoned and so highly a talent and professional as he is given her in the personas of Jeanne Tripplehorn and supported so marvelously by such an auspicious performer as Laura Linney. This is not just another melodramatic exploitation of couple as their attempt to survive the most devastating loss imaginable.
I have greatly enjoyed his many performances usually making a mental not of his participation and how he brings a seasoned experience, understanding of infinite variation or human response and motivation can take that only a journeyman craftsman such as himself can project. Many under estimate the character’s importance to a production; a woefully shirt sighted and myopic view of how a film or television is made, at least the good ones. Actors like Mr. Orser bring a story to life by infusing it with characters that provide dimension and a strong, stable foundation for the principles to stand. This imbues them with a unique example of emotions and psychological insight that he was able to so readily bring to this film. He elicited amazing performances from his co-stars invigorating the movie. The pacing is uneven and the momentum stales. Rather than being a detriment it enhances the veracity of film. These grievously wounded people; off balance and adrift in their own torment. A well hone pacing and polished presentation would be a discredit to the movie’s honesty. This shows you that an actor can not only successfully migrate to director but by instilling in thespian acumen he can greatly enhance his vantage point peering out through the camera.