#52FilmsByWomen: COME EARLY MORNING
6/52 COME EARLY MORNING. This week’s film from a female director is exciting for me. This is one of my all-time favorites but I’ve never actually met anyone else who has seen it (let me know if you have). I love introducing this film to people. It was written and directed by actress Joey Lauren Adams. She originally wrote it for herself after finding herself in the position most actresses in their 30’s find themselves, with nothing good to play. When she was finished with the script, she cared so much that she couldn’t bear to pass it on to another director, nor did she want to direct herself. She made the difficult decision to cast another actress and gave Ashley Judd my favorite role she’s ever played.
Set in a small town in Arkansas, it tells the story of a troubled woman who has great potential but who keeps waking up in bed with strangers, drinking too much and destroying any chance she has at real relationships. It’s a story about forgiving the sins of the father so that you can forgive yourself and move forward. The writing and performances are absolutely beautiful. Having grown up in small towns like this in the middle of nowhere, this story rings so true to me. It features an incredible supporting cast and even the local actors are spot-on and recognizable from other southern indies like The Apostle and Slingblade.
The tragedy of this film is that most people never saw it. It was distributed, at least in part, by Blockbuster and that’s how I found it. I bought a used DVD from Blockbuster well before they went out of business but I’ve never found the film anywhere else. You can’t rent it on Amazon or Netflix (I don’t believe) or Google Play. I did see that Lifetime Movies was showing it at times (it’s so NOT a Lifetime movie, don’t let that scare you). And even though the film had good reviews, it took a nose-dive at the box office…probably because no one knew about it or where to find it in the smaller towns where audiences would have appreciated it. According to IMDb, the film was made for around $6 million, opened to $50,000 and took in only a little over $100,000 total. It’s mind-boggling that such an amazing film got lost this way. I think if it had been released now, with all of the streaming platforms that are available, it would have found an audience and made the money it deserved.
This is exactly the kind of film I love, want to make, and want to support. I hope Joey Lauren Adams continues to write and direct, as she’s said she’s doing from interviews I’ve read. While writing this post I discovered that you can buy the film on Amazon or ebay very cheaply and that some libraries carry copies. Seek out this film even if you have to buy it; it’s so worth it.