Review: Fine actors not enough to sustain grief drama ‘Five Nights in Maine’

Hani Furstenberg and David Oyelowo in "Five Nights in Maine."
(Sofian El Fani / FilmRise)

The dreary postmortem drama “Five Nights in Maine” is barely kept afloat by the gravitas of dueling leads David Oyelowo and Dianne Wiest. Unfortunately, this hermetic film, written and directed by Maris Curran, provides too rickety a framework to properly showcase these two fine actors.

Oyelowo (“Selma”) plays Sherwin, a grieving, unsteady widower who warily travels from Atlanta to bucolic Maine to visit Lucinda (Wiest), the estranged mother of his late wife Fiona (Hani Furstenberg). Although Lucinda, a frail but officious widow with cancer, extended the invite, she proves a less-than-welcoming host, leaving the niceties to her kindly nurse, Ann (a subdued and underused Rosie Perez).

Communication between Sherwin and Lucinda occurs in fits and starts, neither one ready or willing to truly share their thoughts and feelings about Fiona. Olive branches are offered then retracted, shared meals prove abortive events, and what passes for action — Sherwin hurts his leg jogging, a weakening Lucinda falls out of bed — often lacks resonance.

Curran’s spare script inspires more questions than answers: Was Sherwin and Fiona’s marriage troubled? Was Fiona drunk when she fatally crashed her car? What was at the heart of Lucinda and Fiona’s longtime rift? Was it because Fiona married a black man?


Effective character dissection and satisfying moments of catharsis are also in short supply. Maybe a sixth night would have been the charm.


‘Five Nights in Maine”

Not rated


Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills; also on VOD