Come Early Morning 2006 Starring Ashley Judd
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A Southern beauty whose habit of waking up in strange beds with head-ringing hangovers is beginning to wear thin determines to uncover her secret shrouded family past in hopes of discovering the truth about the woman she has become in the feature filmmaking debut of actor-turned-director Joey Lauren Adams. Lucy (Ashley Judd) is a small town thirtysomething who seems to have fallen into a downward spiral of alcohol-fueled benders and spontaneous one-night stands. In order to begin the transformation necessary to help her overcome her self-destructive ways, however, Lucy will have to look deep into her familial past and seek out the true weight of the burden that has led her down the darkened path she currently walks. Diane Ladd, Tim Blake Nelson, and Laura Prepon co-star in an intimate personal drama that made its premiere at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.
Come Early Morning
Running time: 97 min.
Country: United States United States
Director Joey Lauren Adams
Screenwriter Joey Lauren Adams
Music Alan Brewer
Cinematography Tim Orr
Cast Ashley Judd, Jeffrey Donovan, Tim Blake Nelson, Diane Ladd, Laura Prepon, Scott Wilson, Stacy Keach
Come Early Morning Movie Trailer
A Conversation with Director / Writer Joey Lauren Adams
MadeinAtlantis.com Posted: August 1, 2014
What inspired you to create Come Early Morning?
I wrote the script originally as an outlet for the frustrations I was having as an actress and the roles that were available to me. Also, I found myself becoming self-destructive during my down time between films because I was in the position of waiting to be wanted and of being bored.
Writing gave me a place to be constructive and a right to bitch. After I finished the script, and after I figured out I liked it, I realized that I wanted to pick the cast, the locations, the music, the crew, etc. I couldn’t stand the idea of someone else interpreting the story and I knew it wasn’t the kind of script that someone would necessarily want to interpret. I wanted to get the movie made the way I saw it in myself, so necessity, you could say, forced me to direct.
Will you describe the genesis of the project up to and including your first day on set?
It took five weeks to shoot what I had spent five years trying to finance. I’m still struggling with that one. I had never been behind the camera, but I had 15 years of set experience as an actress. I knew how important it was to get a good crew.
I got an amazing crew. We shot in my hometown of North Little Rock, Arkansas, which lent a degree of comfort. I had an unbelievably talented actress, Ashley Judd, playing the role I had originally written for myself. The night before our first day of shooting I was trying to play out the next day’s events in my head. 1) Arrive on set. 2) Get out of car. 3) … and I was already stuck. As an actress, I knew the routine: find your trailer, then find the make-up trailer, and then wait to be called to set. As a director, I had no idea where to go. In a panic, I called Tim
Orr, our cinematographer, and tried to act cool as I asked, “So when I get to set in the morning, um, where should I go?” He was kind and said, “Just find me.” Throughout the shoot, whenever I was unsure of what to do, I would just find someone who did.
What films and / or directors inspired you during the making of COME EARLY MORNING?
Bruce Beresford’s, TENDER MERCIES was the template for the film. I showed it to everyone involved. I’ve always admired its achievement in telling a story in the most simple and honest way. The combination of Horton Foote’s writing with the acting, production design, cinematography, music, and sound design all lend to this.
Also, URBAN COWBOY had a huge influence. It seemed to me the actors were never commenting on the people they were portraying. Instead, they were just being. It was so important that COME EARLY MORNING not be a caricature of Southern culture, but instead an honest view of a very real people and places.
Why was Ashley Judd your first choice to play Lucy?
I thought Ashley got the whole Southern thing in a very real way and she also seemed to have truly lived life, searching to understand it intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. There’s a depth to her. When we met, there was just immediately a connection and I knew she got it. There seemed to be a trust between both of us. We didn’t really talk a lot about the movie or her character.
We talked about where we were in our lives on a personal level, which with this film, we both had to bring to the table. While shooting, I was constantly amazed by her talent and commitment. There is not one false note in her performance.
Very few films today are driven by female protagonists. Do you think COME EARLY MORNING will appeal to women in particular?
I can’t help but wonder that if Lucy was, let’s say a guy named Leonard, would one argue COME EARLY MORNING is a “man’s movie?” It’s the story of a human being struggling with the universal themes of love – or lack thereof, including love for oneself. It would be a huge disappointment for me if the film were to be labeled a “chick flick” simply because the story follows a woman. In fact, I think Lucy possesses several of what would typically be described as male qualities. She is complex.
Lucy’s journey is marked by small but significant moments that lend resonance to the story.
I wanted the story to be true to my experiences in life. I haven’t had any huge epiphanies. It’s been much more gradual.
What did Jeffrey Donovan bring to the role of Cal?
I had a very specific idea about who Cal was. Jeffrey came in and auditioned and I thought, “That’s Cal.” He had a confidence that seemed to come as a result of having been there, a certain maturity and patience and an ability to roll with whatever was happening. Cal’s not judgmental, he simply responds to however Lucy presents herself – he acts as a mirror. He sleeps with her when she’s drunk but he’s also there when she’s looking for something more intimate. Jeffery was able to pull this off in a very real way while at the same time honestly portraying Cal’s own complexities and boundaries.
How is Lucy’s relationship with her family essential to understanding her character?
In the film, Lucy is forced to deal with the effects her family has had on her perspective. Certain failures of her father and her grandparents have been passed down and Lucy, exhausted from the struggle, is forced to look at how she has chosen to carry these failures as burdens and ultimately how she should lay them down.
Religion also is a major theme throughout the film…
When pitching the script, I wasn’t allowed to speak of the religious content – not a good sell – and I’m hesitant to speak of it now for fear of sounding dogmatic. The holy thread throughout the story is simply my adult interpretation of the particular religious semantics I happened to be raised with and how I understand them to be true. I just wanted to address it in a very subtle way. There are positive messages in the Bible. It’s just depends on how you translate them. Feel free to draw your own conclusions.
Clearly, setting is a major element in COME EARLY MORNING.
We shot mainly in North Little Rock as well as Little Rock, Lonoke and some of the surrounding counties. It was important to me to shoot in Arkansas because it’s not Faulkneresque or the antebellum South of GONE WITH THE WIND. And it’s not the Texas of Ry Cooder. It is a very specific place with a very specific feel that I wanted to capture on film. I also wanted the actors to experience it so they could bring it to their characters.
Will you describe the aesthetics of COME EARLY MORNING? How did you want the film to look?
Although the film is contemporary, I wanted it to feel more 70’s in order to give a sense of the characters being stuck in the past. There are no cell phones in the script, a lot of the cars are older models, and the colors are very muted.
As far as the cinematography, I knew we couldn’t overpower the story. I saw GEORGE WASHINGTON years ago and immediately I wanted Tim Orr. He has a very natural style and an ability to shoot simply and still seem interesting. He understands the delicate motivation of movement. He’s also great at conveying sense of place and turning that place into a character. I knew even if we never spoke, I would love the way the film looked. It was incredible to work with that kind of trust, especially since I knew cinematography wasn’t my strength.
How did you use music to tell the story?
There is both conscious and unconscious music in the film – the obvious being the score and the tunes that play throughout, mainly off two jukeboxes that have significant roles in the story. The old jukebox represents Lucy’s stagnation and her inability to let go, the new one, change. But on a much more subtle level, I think that like most writers I listen to music while working. I pick songs that equate certain emotions; those emotions translate into the scenes, and I believe remain there. Theft or inspiration? Many thanks to those who will never know their music is in the film.
These production notes provided by Roadside Attractions.
TOMATOMETER CRITCS 83% | AUDIENCE 8%
November 15, 2006 | Rating: A-
Owen Gleiberman Entertainment Weekly Top Critic
The baby-voiced costar of Chasing Amy proves an effortless filmmaker, turning Lucy's journey into the awakening of a soul.
February 28, 2008 | Rating: 2.5/4
David Nusair Reel Film Reviews
Judd surely deserves the lion's share of kudos for the movie's success...
The directorial debut of actress Joey Lauren Adams (who also wrote the screenplay), Come Early Morning follows 30-something Lucy Fowler (Ashley Judd) as she attempts to get her life back on track after years of engaging in meaningless one-night stands. With its exceedingly slow pace and plot-free structure, Come Early Morning will never be mistaken for anything other than a laid-back character study - yet there's no denying that the film is, for the most part, an intriguing and thoroughly compelling piece of work. Judd surely deserves the lion's share of kudos for the movie's success, as the actress delivers a performance that's heartbreakingly complex (in her hands, Lucy - as sympathetic a figure as there ever was - manages to come off as tough-as-nails in one scene and achingly vulnerable in the next). Adams' willingness to allow the story to unfold deliberately - coupled with her ear for natural dialogue - lends the proceedings an unmistakable vibe of authenticity, although there's also no denying that the movie is occasionally just a little too meandering for its own good. The introduction of a Batman meme seemed a bit far fetched at first, but after understanding the context it's actually germane. The notion that her personal demons are like unreal monsters that dwell in her head and reveal themselves like Batman villains is perfect, especially for a fan of the Dark Knight. Recognizing them as cartoonish, unreal players makes ignoring them a relatively easy challenge that plays into many of the life struggles that loom to large in the mind of those tormented by their own sense of self-worth. The inclusion of a few overtly predictable elements - ie the trajectory of Lucy's relationship with Jeffrey Donovan's seemingly down-to-earth Cal Percell - can't quite derail what is otherwise an impressive first effort, and it seems certain that Adams is destined to move onto bigger and better things.
January 14, 2008 | Rating: 4/5
Don Willmott Filmcritic.com
custom made for Judd; she's brilliant
January 18, 2007 | Rating: 4/5
Josh Bell Las Vegas Weekly
The best thing about Adams' film is its unhurried, casual naturalism.
Not to spoil the plot (or what qualifies for such in this languid, laconic film), but she sure can. The best thing about Adams' film is its unhurried, casual naturalism, as honest and low-key in its portrayal of human relationships as it is in its depiction of the Arkansas landscape, with beautiful cinematography by Tim Orr. Morning is a character study of a character who actually deserves studying, and a love letter from Adams to the South where she grew up.
Judd gives her best performance in years as Lucy, an affable but lonely woman in her mid-30s who sublimates her desires to reconnect with her emotionally distant father (Wilson) and physically distant mother by getting drunk and sleeping with whatever guy comes along, only to sneak out rather clumsily the next morning. "You talking or drinking?" is the way that the bartender greets Lucy at her favorite hangout, and the latter is clearly her preferred method of social interaction (as it is for most of the other characters).
For someone who doesn't do a whole lot over the course of the movie's 97 minutes, Lucy actually develops in surprisingly meaningful ways. She meets a genuine nice guy (Donovan) who doesn't just want to sleep with her and never talk to her again, and has trouble dealing with the idea of a real relationship; she adopts two sometimes clunky metaphors in the forms of a stray dog and a cast-off jukebox; she finds solace and replacement father figures in her boss and a kindly barfly.
Any revelations that show up are small and believable, and by the end of the film, Lucy has solved nothing yet seems somehow better for it. The audience is better off, too, for having spent time with this warm and achingly real person, whose traumas are slight, but depicted with perfection.
October 26, 2012
An inspired, powerful and terrific directorial debut for Joey Lauren Adams(of "Chasing Amy" fame) who wonderful proves herself as an effortless, gifted filmmaker and a remarkably good writer....Ashley Judd gives one of the best, greatest performances of her career.
December 28, 2012
We were spending the holidays in Maui at a Kaanapali Beach Resort that has an amazing waterfront resort called The Whaler Resort. Kaanapali is West Maui's most popular vacation destination and this premier resort on the leeward side of the island that spans the oceanfront along a three-mile long stretch of sandy beach did not disappoint. Our days were jam packed with all sorts of activities from hiking, to fishing, to snorkeling and site seeing all over the island. One evening after watching another fabulous sunset from our private lanai and then eating dinner at another great Maui restaurant, we decided we should just chill for the rest of the evening. Our Kaanapali rental condo boasted a large collection of CD's. I chose Come Early Morning which I had seen in the theater years ago when it was first released. I really enjoy Ashley Judd and it was gratifiying to see her in role that is worthy of her talent. The film left us with just the right amount of wondering about her past and hopeful for her future. Interestingly, it was a quietly powerful film that contrasted rather starkly with our surroundings and life style here on Maui. My girlfriend, who had never seen it, loved it.
September 10, 2012
Great movie. There's a sublty to its realism and it doesn't try to force the viewer to accept the plot. That's probably because the acting is so terrific. Not perfect, but still a good film.
***Walter M Super Reviewer
July 21, 2012
"Come Early Morning" starts with Lucy(Ashley Judd), a building contractor, taking the walk of shame but not so much that she insists on paying for the motel room. In talking to Doll(Candyce Hinkle), she finds out her dad(Scott Wilson) is back in town. Seeing a chance at reconciliation, she accompanies him to the new church he is attending. When that old time religion does not stick, Lucy is back to the old grind at the local honky tonk where she gets into a fight with a fellow patron that Cal(Jeffrey Donovan), who is new in town, helps to break up and then takes a liking to her.
Without much of a story to speak of, "Come Early Morning" has to rely on the charms of its rough hewn subjects to engage the audience with the study of a character who is haunted by the past mistakes of her family, leading her to act impulsively, sometimes without the help of alcohol. Wrapping that all up, the movie is perfunctory in its conclusions but thankfully not its resolution. In this case, I would have to say that the country music and the religion add regional flavor instead of acting as stereotypes. Regardless, the movie is helped by a good cast that also includes Diane Ladd, Stacy Keach and Ray McKinnon, of which Ashley Judd fares best in a thoroughly lived in performance.
***½ Michael T
July 13, 2012
Judd is the whole show in this slowly-paced drama.
***½ Mark G
May 13, 2012
A low-key movie that really showcases Ashley Judds' acting. Not a lot of action but wonderful character development. About a person's journey to lay down the burden of her family's dysfunctions and discover fulfillment in life. So much of what happens takes place within the protagonist and it is wonderfully conveyed by Judd's body and facial expressions, and tone of voice. For instance, her face beautifully displays the shyness of her character when she has sex sober for the first time in her life. Set in Arkansas, the story is held together by a fondness for its non-urban locale and a genuine attempt to capture the people who live there.
****½ Memory L
April 21, 2012
THIS IS MY ALL TIME FAV. MOVIE the song she plays at the end is the best song ever>>>i'm just an old chunk of coal, but i'm goin be a diamond some day! that's me yepppers me alright !!!!
***** Shannon B
April 17, 2012
This was a pretty good movie. Not your regular ashely judd movie, but great if you can relate to it
** k z
July 4, 2007
the best of ashly judd
**** Private U
July 2, 2007
it was lacking in some areas...but a hopeless alcoholic woman struggling through life and intimacy is something I relate to...If you can't relate, you won't like it..
* Delaney D
July 2, 2007
No plot and horrible ending, especially since they were building it up. I thought this movie was a love story, but she didn't even end up with the guy in the end. Definately not one of Judd's best.
** Kelly V
July 1, 2007
Very slow start. But it took place in Arkansas. So it did make me smile and remember home.
**** Matthew P
June 30, 2007
Come Early Morning is a very impressive directorial debut from Joey Lauren Adamsn. Ashley Judd is another actress, who given the right role, is an amazing performer. One of, if not, her best yet.
June 28, 2007
I love Ashley Judd. Great movie
*½ Molly V
June 27, 2007
So much less than I hoped for. A movie with no ending that had potential and build up, but then flopped. Supposedly a slice-of-life, but a not so entertaining one if so.
**½ Flux C
June 27, 2007
Devastating bad movie and that´s coming from a guy that likes romantic movies, this was just awful directing uggggghh.
**½ Nelson C
June 25, 2007
This is a rare american independent movie!!
simple but convicing story realy well told , honest ,realy well shot and realy well played by Ashley Judd .
** Nataliya B
June 23, 2007
like how she played...sad movie.
***** Piumie d
June 19, 2007
I think it was a fantastic performance delivered by Judd! The movie is an inspiration for women - especially those who want to be independent. The script has an equal mixture of independence and destructive characteristics that also accompany being single and independent. It is a movie that should be watched by all women!
**½ Private U
June 18, 2007
Um, nothing happened. It was alright though because it did have a few good underlying themes.
June 17, 2007
It was good... until the end... I wanted more... I just didn't feel satisfied. I was like what happens now?
*** Stephen H
June 16, 2007
Not bad. Ashley Judd gave a good performance. Not the most original movie, but worth a viewing. The setting was very realistic (I believe it's Arkansas). Someone mentioned Branson, MO, and I got excited.
*** Crystal L
June 15, 2007
Some good lessons about learning to overcome your past and that you have to love yourself before you'll let anyone else love you. I had hoped for a more resolved ending, but it was still good because it leaves you feeling that she's letting go of the past and is working on a better future. Also you can imagine things may still work out for them.
*** Adam G
June 15, 2007
Somewhat slow, but that is it's only fault. Ashley Judd is an amazing. actress.
***** Eliana A
June 14, 2007
I JUST LOVED IT!!! Fue como un reflejo de muxas cosas en mi vida. Talvez no es la cosa mas taquillera del mundo...pero yo la ame
**½ Cathleen D
June 14, 2007
Ashley Judd always shines in these independant movies. I don't know why she insists on doing all these thrillers about a strong woman surviving with the help of Morgan Freeman.