“Morning,” the feature directorial debut of actor Leland Orser, was made on actual 35mm film — a filmmaking choice that is rapidly disappearing. It's also the sort of small picture that is commercially hurt by the incredible boom in indies shot on HD-video. Fifteen or 20 years ago, it might have gotten a decent release in art houses. As it is — after making the festival rounds in 2010 — it's come out on DVD in the middle of its one-week, one-screen L.A. booking.
Orser (“ER”) and his real-life wife, Jeanne Tripplehorn, play Mark and Alice, a couple reeling from the accidental death of their only child. Grief and memories have made living together in their formerly happy home unbearable. Alice checks into a nearby motel; Mark remains in the house, wallowing in mourning and sinking into an infantile regression. Meanwhile, the silent housekeeper (Gina Morelli) dutifully shows up every day, with little to do except maintain a makeshift shrine for the dead 4-year-old.
It's hard to imagine anything more traumatic than the death of a child (although both “Beautiful Boy” and “We Need to Talk About Kevin” came up with a potentially more horrific family crisis). Indeed, the subject has been tackled before many times, despite its obvious lack of audience appeal. There are very few surprising moments in “Morning,” but both stars manage to elevate things with their utter absorption in the material. The DVD has no extras; and fans of Laura Linney and Elliott Gould should be apprised that neither shows up until the final third, with Gould having no more than five minutes screen time.
"Morning" Anchor Bay, DVD, $19.98
ANDY KLEIN is the film critic for Marquee. He can also be heard on "FilmWeek" on KPCC-FM (89.3).