How we deal with grief can be and usually is a very personal and difficult process. Some people retreat completely into themselves, some devote themselves to causes or in other ways use the emotion to jumpstart their lives. Some people turn into masked vigilantes, prowling the night to bring fear to the lives of criminals. It varies. But in almost all cases it’s a process, one that is frequently messy and non-linear as the person tries to make sense out of what might be a senseless tragedy that has pulled someone out of their lives.
The new movie Five Nights In Maine is about the grieving process. Sherwin (David Oyelowo) and his wife are madly in love. One day she’s randomly killed in a car accident, sending him into a whirlwind of grief. As part of that he decides to travel to the home of his wife’s estranged mother Lucinda (Dianne Wiest) and spend some time there. She’s never been a fan of his, though, and the personalities conflict as each reels from the impact of the death of their loved one in their own way.
The movie’s one poster sells the movie based solely on the pairing of Oyelowo and Wiest. The two are shown here standing side by side along a lake, the woods behind them to show us the story will be set in some sort of rustic, if not rural, location. What they’re looking at is unclear, they’re both just kind of looking out at the horizon or something else that’s off-camera. There’s no copy here about the story or the characters, just a graphic touting the movie’s appearance at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. So if you’re a fan of understated character dramas, this poster will likely speak to you in a big way.
As the first trailer opens we see Sherwin and his wife enjoying some quiet time in bed. But then tragedy strikes as he gets a call saying she’s been killed in a car wreck. As part of the grieving process he goes to visit her mother in Maine, though the reception there is less than friendly. It’s clear Lucinda, his late wife’s mother, doesn’t feel warmly toward him and what follows is the two of them dancing around each other as they each deal with their loss in their own way.
Wiest looks really good in this but it’s Oyelowo’s show. The trailer makes him the focal point of the movie as we see his face reacting to everything, often in extreme close-up. We’ve seen stories like this play out before, but let’s be honest and point out that it’s usually with an all-white cast. So seeing a person of color in the role is great, though it’s unclear from the trailer if the story addresses the mixed-race marriage that forms the core of the character’s connections or if race is otherwise a motivating factor for the characters.
Online and Social
So…there’s not much on what appears to be the movie’s official web presence. It’s just a page on the FilmRise site that has a story synopsis, a link to a press page where you can grab the poster and a single still, a few critics quotes and dates for where and when it will play over the next month or so.
There is also a Facebook page that offers some press updates on the movie and its cast. That page has been tracking the movie’s journey around the festival circuit and more. Still not a ton, but between this and the FilmRise page there’s enough to offer the online audience at least some additional information on the movie.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing here that’s crossed my radar. There may be some online advertising done as the release expands but right now I’m not seeing anything.
Media and Publicity
The movie debuted at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, where it got decent word of mouth and where the cast and director Maris Curran were able to talk about the movie in various ways. Most of the publicity and press coverage, though, has come from the release of official marketing materials.
As I mentioned above, the focus here is on Oyelowo, plain and simple. The campaign hinges on your connecting with him and his story and finding it compelling enough to invest two hours in. It promises some unique twists on the formula of a man grieving for his dead spouse – and we can have a conversation here about how it’s yet another example of using the death of a woman to frame what’s mostly a man’s story – but for the most part just promises solid performances from the two leads.
There’s no particular brand the movie is selling, meaning there’s not a lot going on visually between the elements of the campaign. That includes the poster and trailer, though not really the website because there isn’t actually a dedicated, full-throated web presence for the movie. I can’t fault FilmRise for that; It’s a small movie and I can imagine there are just some places corners needed to be cut. So all in all it’s a good, but not great, campaign that sells the performances but not much else.