Directed by: Mark Clebanoff
File this one under “Films which are good for the first forty five minutes and then completely fall apart”. ‘The Mourning’ is a brooding slow paced sci-fi drama which has that Thursday afternoon Channel 5 feel about it.
The film begins when a naked man, who looks awfully grubby, wakes up in the middle of some woodland. The man staggers into a small town, and is able to rummage some rather garish tartan trousers from a bin. He then wanders into the home of an elderly couple. The couple, fearing the man is a burglar, or worse yet a pervert, call the police. When they arrive the local sheriff (Louis Mandylor) recognises the now half naked man as his long lost brother-in-law who disappeared in the Gulf War twenty years ago.
We discover the man’s name is Aaron, and his sudden return startles his sister, and the rest of the town folk. Michael Rene Walton does a sterling job for the first half of the film, as Adam is mute, and unable to explain his disappearance. Walton’s perplexed and confused facial expressions are convincing. ‘The Mourning’ falters when Aaron opens his mouth. This moment happens when Aaron’s brother-in-law gets his old acoustic guitar out and invites Adam to play the bongo drums. Aaron sings.
Obviously the film tries to present the after effects of PTSD for war veterans. How former servicemen and women are unable to articulate the horrors that they have witnessed. Both Aaron and his brother-in-law served overseas are metaphorical and literal representations of this. The sheriff turned to the bottle to try and dull the pain.
The most annoying character is The Suited Woman (Dominique Swain) who appears to represent some kind of vigilante investigation group. She arrives out of nowhere and follows Aaron about. Her presence is supposed to be threatening, but she just stinks up the film whenever she is on screen.
‘The Mourning’ is a case of a movie playing its hand way too early. The suspense lies in Aaron’s silence and when that is broken the film falls apart. The film after the jam scene plods along as a kitchen sink Americana drama, with everyone looking gloomy. This is perhaps best represented when Aaron’s childhood sweetheart from twenty years ago called Lucey (Sally McDonald) tries to get to grips with Aaron’s return. In this role McDonald emotes like she’s got a dozen sherbet lemons in her mouth