An ‘Early Morning’ From Berlin

‘Come Early Morning’ was the first film of this year’s ‘Sneak Previews With Michael Berlin,’ an annual film series sponsored by UC Irvine Extension, in which six films that have yet to be released into theaters are previewed at Edwards University Center. Following the screenings are question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers and film industry professionals, hosted by Michael Berlin, a screenwriter and producer.
‘Morning,’ which opened in limited release on Friday Nov. 10, is a quiet and low-key picture of a young woman who has lost her emotional core and wants to find it again, while dealing with the problems of family and relationships that never seem to end. The writing and directorial debut of Joey Lauren Adams (Amy from ‘Chasing Amy’), the film moves at a leisurely pace through scenes more thoughtful than poignant.
That description may be the most I can say about what the film is, so let me say what it is not: It is not a depressing or stark portrayal of depression, dysfunctional families and one-night stands, although all those elements are in the film. It is not a heartbreaking or melodramatic story of a damaged woman and the man she desperately wants to love her. It is not a movie filled with tear-filled confessions, overblown yelling matches and intense conflicts.
It is, rather, a subtle and understated portrayal of Lucy, played to perfection by Ashley Judd, and the existential crisis she goes through while her family and friends barely notice. Lucy has a regular routine of going home with guys from her favorite bar and promptly leaving before they even wake up the morning after, and as the film opens, that is the most meaningful relationship she has with anyone. She has an uncle and aunt who are too busy fighting each other to notice her, and a father who barely says a word to her even when she insists on accompanying him to his new church.
Feeling lost and confused, Lucy goes through the motions of life until she meets an intriguing man named Cal (Jeffrey Donovan), and takes him home just like any other guy. When he asks her, ‘When was the last time you kissed someone sober?’ she laughs drunkenly