A boozing, brawling, promiscuous Southern gal fights her demons while trying to reconcile with her dad, care for a wounded stray dog, put up with her conscientious roommate, and navigate a relationship with a nice guy in Come Early Morning, actress-turned-filmmaker Joey Lauren Adams’s cookie-cutter contribution to Sundance-style cinema. Lucy (Ashley Judd) is a slutty, drunken mess who spends her days working as a contractor and her nights hopping into bed with whomever she first meets at the local bar, a go-nowhere life that’s disrupted by the arrival of Cal (Jeffrey Donovan), a car aficionado who sees Lucy as more than just a pair of easily removable Wrangler Jeans. Come every morning following a one-night stand, Lucy, humiliated and ashamed, runs away from her mate, a habit that, at its core, is a reenactment of her shy, remote father’s past predilection for drinking, cheating, and cutting and running. It’s also merely one example of the carefully arranged schematism of Adams’s directorial debut, which delivers corny pathos and uplifting salvation with a country music twang, a touch of religiosity, and some magic-hour sunlight. Shot by the usually inspired Tim Orr, Come Early Morning isn’t even very interesting to look at, its cozy depiction of the rustic South lacking the visual panache that might have elevated its tale above the mundane. Still, if the film offers nothing different from countless other low-budget rural redemption stories, Judd, in a role seemingly designed to reestablish both her acting chops and indie cred, does her finest work in years as the troubled Lucy, imbuing her formulaic protagonist with a spitfire wildness, fury, and sadness that’s convincing even when the situations she finds herself in are not. In an early sex scene between an inebriated Lucy and Cal, Judd’s countenance exhibits, in a breathtaking flash, hungry desire, bashful nervousness, and girlish playfulness—a thrillingly authentic moment that, as with everything else genuine about Adams’s film, unfortunately leads nowhere except toward maudlin histrionics, mushy catharsis and tidy personal triumph.
- Roadside Attractions
- 97 min
- Joey Lauren Adams
- Joey Lauren Adams
- Ashley Judd, Jeffrey Donovan, Diane Ladd, Tim Blake Nelson, Scott Wilson, Laura Prepon, Ray McKinnon
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