"Learriving at Dawn"
Directed by: Alexander Payne
Written by: Alexander Payne
Jim Carrey (Kyle Jones)
Paul Giamatti as (John Jones)
Phillip Bosco as (Howard Jones)
Catherine Keener as (Mandy Jones)
Tagline: "Time Is Precious, Don’t Give It Away"
Kyle hates his life. He just walked in his house from work and found out that his wife has left him a note saying that she has left, to pursue a life with her new found lover Jillian, a Mexican maid from Utah whom she met on the internet.
He decides to end it all tying a rope to his neck, writing a goodbye letter to his family and a separate letter to his older brother John who he has not talked to since he was 19 and found his girlfriend at the time in bed with him when Kyle came home from college. When he is about to tip over the chair he gets a knock at the door and hears a familiar voice say hello. It is his father who he hasn’t seen ever since he divorced his mother when Kyle was 29. Kyle takes the rope off his neck, puts the chair back under the table and puts both letters in a drawer as if he is gong to finish what he started later. When he answers the door he finds his father standing there with his brother and his new wife, Mandy the same girl he fell in love with at 19.
Mandy is 7 months pregnant and looking as beautiful as ever. Kyle loves the fact that she is happy but wonders why they are here. His father tells him that they were just passing through on they’re way to California and wondered if he wanted to come. His dad asks where Melinda was and Kyle tells him that she is visiting an old friend in Utah. He begins to wonder why they are going to California all of a sudden and how they passed through his state when they live in North Dakota and he lives in Texas. At first he doesn’t want to go until he finds out that his brother has actually been diagnosed with Lung Cancer (his father tells him while they watch his brother smoking a cigarette, just like when Kyle was 14 and caught him for the first time).
They decide that they will go tomorrow so his brother can get some rest. While he is packing his clothes he begins to hear noises. At first he walks into the living room to see if it is his brother but finds out its not. When he walks in, his brother wakes up and asks him what is wrong. Kyle simply stares at him and begins to walk out of the room. John begs him to stay so they can talk. John tells Kyle that he is sorry and was always jealous of his older brother. Although John was always the most popular kid in school, Kyle had the respect from his parents and knew what he wanted to do with his life. John admits the day that he was caught with Mandy he felt kind of relieved because he knew he hurt John. He tells John that the reason that he came to take him on this road trip was to reconnect before he dies as they are talking John starts to cough and spit up blood. Kyle runs up to the guest room where he finds his father and Mandy kissing.
As they are sitting in the lobby of the hospital in awkward silence his father finally opens his mouth and tells Kyle that he can’t let John know. Kyle gets up and asks the doctor if he can see his brother. The doctor agrees and he walks in the room. When he walks in the room and begin to talk to his brother he tells him he knows. When Kyle asks what he knows, John says that he knows that Mandy is cheating on him with Dad but John just didn’t want to be alone. He knew if he left her and with Kyle not talking to him he would not have anyone to be there for him. Then Kyle tells him that Melinda left him and just before they were about to come he was about to commit suicide. Then John shows Kyle his arms and shows him the scars from when he tried to commit suicide telling him that is the reason Mandy hasn’t left him.
While Kyle is sleeping he is awakened by Mandy who is crying profusely. Kyle tells her that he didn’t tell John but Mandy is not there because of that. Mandy apologizes to Kyle for what happened so long ago. She pulls out the suicide letter that he wrote getting it from his pants pocket and confessing that she didn’t read the other one that was for John. While she is crying they get a phone call from the hospital.
12P.M.: The Next Day
Howard is packing ready to leave and go home after finding out that his younger son has just committed suicide (tying the bed sheets to his neck and choking himself to death). He decides that he is going to end the relationship with Mandy once he gets home knowing that it is unhealthy for both of them. The only thing left in his mind is whether his oldest son will ever forgive him.
Mandy is grieving and wondering if she could ever forgive herself for what she put her husband through. She is left wondering what would have happened if she would had never wanted to meet her first loves parents. She looks at her stomach and starts to wonder………..
Kyle is sad but at the same time relieved that he resolved his problems with his brother before he committed suicide at the hospital. He finds the suicide letter he wrote to his brother and gives it to Mandy telling her not to open it until the day of the funeral.
What the Press would say:
Alexander Payne has created another masterpiece after his success with the film Sideways of what seems like forever ago. He brings his unique style of film making to this wonderfully written screenplay which is also written by him. This idea has been done before, the old “A man realizing things in a day” but not like this and this enjoyable since the Hours but not to be at all confused with the great film that is the Hours. “Learriving at Dawn” is as unique as its title and the Academy is sure to realize a fantastic film especially with the cast led by Jim Carrey. Jim Carrey is a respected snubbed actor who starred in such films as “Truman Show”, “Man on the Moon” and “Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind”. He is phenomenal and a joy to watch. He plays the depressed character looking for a way out, to perfection. Paul Giamatti* (Cinderella Man and Sideways) should gain another nomination after this performance since the Academy eats up these type of roles which is the diseased stricken man who finally realizes what kind of person he was. The scenes shared between him and Jim is going to go down as the best of the year. Catherine Keener* (Capote and Into The Wild) and Phillip Bosco (Savages) rounds out this great film with strong performances from both especially from Catherine Keener who could snatch up awards if people really connect with this unlikable character. With the performances and the screenplay this film is excellent and worth the price of admission.
*= Academy Award Nominees
*^=Academy Award Winners
For Your Consideration:
Best Original Screenplay
Best Actor: Jim Carrey
Best Supporting Actor: Paul Giamatti
Best Supporting Actress: Catherine Keener