Five Nights in Maine is directed by Maris Curran and stars David Oyelowo, Dianne Wiest and Rosie Perez. Sherwin (Oyelowo) has recently lost his wife in a car accident and after shutting himself away in a grief-filled cloud of booze, sleep and sobbing decides to visit his mother-in-law Lucinda (Wiest) in Maine to try to cope with his feelings and figure out why his wife was acting strangely after recently visiting her. Lucinda, who is struggling with what seems to be the final stages of cancer, is a hardened and cold woman who doesn’t hide her contempt for Sherwin nor her daughter for that matter.
It’s hard to believe that a film that takes place in such an idyllic setting (seriously, it’s like there were subliminal “move to Maine” messages pulsating at me throughout the film) and with such a potentially deliciously dramatic premise could be so incredibly boring. But the key word there is “potentially.” What drama and heft there was went absolutely nowhere, and instead we’re left with numerous long shots of Oyelowo staring out the window, or staring into the distance, or staring out at the ocean. The one time he and Wiest get close to having an actual emotional moment, she gets up and leaves the room and the scene just dies. And there was this strange scene where Oyelowo goes out running in the woods and appears to be shot at a couple of times, but they just move on with the comment, “You have to be careful these days.” And there just seemed to be no point in him going there in the first place and then staying there; I kept wishing he would just leave and put us all out of our misery.
The surprising bright point in the Five Nights was Rosie Perez, who played Wiest’s nurse Ann. I usually find Perez to be completely shrill and annoying, but her performance was understated and refreshing in an otherwise dreary and muddy film. And it’s not that Oyelowo and Wiest weren’t good in the film; they were just given absolutely nothing to work with.
These are two really fine actors who could have handled the portrayal of some really complex people, but because their characters fell flat, so did they. Unfortunately, the shallow characterizations and unbalanced plot is made even more glaringly obvious due to the cinematography, made intimate with the use of a hand held camera.
There were so many missed opportunities in Five Nights in Maine, and it just completely fell flat for me. When a film that barely clocks in at an hour and twenty minutes seems interminable that’s a problem, especially considering it only took me about twenty minutes before I started daydreaming about moving to Maine, probably as a defense mechanism. Even with that beautiful setting, I could only give the film a 2 out of 5.