Cinema by the Bay
USA, 2009, 92 minutes
Mon, Apr 26 / 6:15 / Kabuki / MORN26K
Wed, Apr 28 / 1:45 / Kabuki / MORN28K
Wed, May 05 / 3:45 / Kabuki / MORN05K
A married couple reels off into separate byways of grief after the death of their only child in this beautifully acted, carefully observed exploration of loss and endurance from actor-turned–writer/director Leland Orser. The title’s double entendre emerges obliquely from the ruptured routine of days in an affluent suburb of Los Angeles, where Mark (Orser) and Alice (Orser’s real-life wife, actress Jeanne Tripplehorn) awake in ungovernable anguish. Only slowly—in such delicate details as a kitchen counter laden with food—do we realize their largely mute and frantic suffering stems from a recent funeral for their small son, a tragedy too deep and too raw to mention aloud. In the days that follow—punctuated by the pre-dawn cross-town trek of an old cleaning woman (Gina Morelli) that gradually takes on the air of a silent vigil—we watch the deterioration of their psyches and daily lives as their marriage flies apart. In an achingly vulnerable, career-defining performance from Tripplehorn, Alice wanders wounded through a suddenly alien world of hotels and shopping malls; Mark, meanwhile, shuts himself up at home in unself-conscious reversion to the boyhood fatally snatched from his child. Orser corrals an expert supporting cast, including nicely tailored cameos from Laura Linney and Elliott Gould, while further expanding the range of emotional color in an unexpected strand of nervous humor. His nuanced direction grounds us simultaneously in a sense of fragility—accented by shimmering, color-saturated home-movie memories that flicker in and out like nodding daydreams—and the simple fortitude that comes with human compassion and the longed-for breaking of new promising dawns.
Presented in association with American Conservatory Theater. World Premiere.