Cinema Review: Five Nights in Maine | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Friday, January 22nd, 2021  

Five Nights in Maine

Studio: FilmRise
Directed by Maris Curran

Aug 03, 2016 Web Exclusive
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Sherwin (David Oyelowo) flounders in misery following the sudden death of his wife Fiona in a car accident. While staring at the pieces of his life, he doesn’t yet attempt to put them back together, he is invited by Lucinda (Dianne Wiest), his estranged mother-in-law, to visit in Maine. With no clear idea of what to do next, he gets in his car and drives from Georgia to heavily-wooded Maine. There he meets Ann (Rosie Perez), Lucinda’s nurse, and spends five awkward nights in Maine as his wife’s presence hangs over every moment, breath, and word.

It’s a fairly standard, though stripped away, story of a man trying to stay connected with his deceased wife through any means necessary. Though her death was an accident, Sherwin is looking for answers. Since Fiona recently visited her mother on her own, Sherwin supposes Lucinda – suffering from late stages of cancer – may have caused his now-deceased wife distress, possibly leading to the accident. Through pictures and conversations, Sherwin gains some glimpses into a side of Fiona he never really saw, though he realizes it’s likely due to changes in time and geography. The Fiona her family in Maine knew is not the Fiona known intimately to Sherwin. Very subtly, writer-director Curran explores the multitudes of individuals through these small conversations.

But the film as a whole fails to live up to the peaks within individual parts. A conversation between Sherwin and Fiona’s uncle is interesting because of what they aren’t saying. The uncle shares memories of Fiona and the sadness between them is palpable. Likewise, a great scene where Ann tells Sherwin a story of a lighthouse keeper gone mad is a funny diversion.

The attempt here is to reflect reality by tearing down any artificial drama. Fiona’s death isn’t treated with theatricality and neither is the grief that follows. While inherently fascinating in its analysis of grief, playing it straight the whole way, it has difficulty finding its hook. Five Nights in Maine is unfortunately bland despite the beautiful Maine scenery – the state itself so rarely shows up in a story not written by Stephen King. The flow is stilted, with scenes coming off more like a laundry list of plot points than a narrative piece of storytelling.

Author rating: 5/10

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