There are moments in our life that can make us feel small. Regardless of our physical size, now and then we are reduced to something…less. It’s like sitting on a bed that’s too high off the ground, and feeling your feet dangle like it did when you were a child. It’s a feeling of fragility and insecurity and it tends to come out of nowhere. There’s not really a way out of it exactly, all you can hope is that someone sits down next to you and makes you feel a little less small.

Such is the hope for FIVE NIGHTS IN MAINE

Our film begins by introducing us to a married couple in Georgia named Sherwin and Fiona (David Oyelowo and Hani Furstenberg). But not long after we meet them, the couple is torn apart after Fiona is in a deadly car crash. Despondent and devastated, Sherwin struggles to move forward with his life. The only thing that seems to shake him from his funk is an invitation from Fiona’s mother Lucinda (Dianne Wiest) to come and finally meet her at her home in rural Maine. Reluctantly, Sherwin agrees, and the battered grieving husband keeps awkward company with the bitter grieving mother.

FIVE NIGHTS IN MAINE is a very good debut from director Maris Curran. She has a way of getting a great deal of emotional honesty from both Oyelowo and Wiest, helped in no small part by floods of stark daylight and close-cropped photography. Our heroes have nowhere to hide, and no make-up to hide behind. They are forced to be something to one-another during one of the last moments they will be anything to one-another, and we are witness to heavy doses of brutal truth.

The film lives in the feeling of timidity and self consciousness we feel when confronted with a new situation. Take the very traumatic feeling of losing a spouse – said to be the most stressful thing a person can go through. Oyelowo gets deep in touch with the feeling of being so rudderless, and finds a way to carry it in his shoulders from scene to scene…to say nothing of what’s written on his face as he weeps intensely. But then there’s also the tension and stillness that comes with meeting one’s in-laws for the first time, let alone under such extraordinary circumstances. Wiest plays a women who could probably filet someone who doesn’t meet her standards at the best of times, and in the aftermath of her daughter’s death and in the fight for her own health, she’s not holding tight to convention.

FIVE NIGHTS IN MAINE is a very human story. It is built on a foundation of intimacy and sorrow and tries to explore the ways we all grieve so very differently. There are moments of awkward humour and warm humanity from all involved. In short, it’s a great start from director Curran and a promise of even better things to come.