CIFF 2013: Mourning Has Broken

Filmmakers Brett and Jason Butler made the movie — about a husband who finds his wife dead in bed but then completes his list of daily errands as if the death didn't happen — for just $1,000

Film made with $1K budget tells story of husband who finds wife dead in bed but refuses to face it

The film, made for just $1,000, tells the story of a man who finds his wife dead in their bed one morning but instead of dealing with it, runs a series of daily errands. (Mourning Has Broken / YouTube )

You need to know upfront this film was part of something called the “1K Challenge.” Filmmakers Brett and Jason Butler spent just $1,000 producing the story about a husband who finds his wife dead in bed one morning and, despite the death, decides to head out and do the errands he had planned for the day. 

See this one if the prospect of making a film for $1,000 intrigues you.- Mario Trono 

The production challenges may mean you want to skip the film, depending on the sort of theatre experience you're up for.

The husband is a positive sort, who rises early one day to merrily cook breakfast for the family cat. But when he snuggles back in bed with his wife, he realizes she has apparently died in the night as a result of an unspecified illness (pill bottles are seen on the night stand).


Saturday 7:30 p.m. 

Cineplex Odeon Eau Claire Market 

Sunday 2 p.m. 

Globe Theatre

He is visibly shaken, but soon he’s washing his car before heading out with a to-do list taped to his sun visor. Denial? It’s got to be.

The film covers the events of the husband's day as he drives around, conspicuously avoiding the funeral home at one point. He experiences several of the various frustrations served up by the urban day: a judgmental neighbour, traffic congestion, hassles at retail counters and oblivious persons preoccupied by their smartphones.

What’s different, of course, is that death has touched his life, so here and there he responds to matters differently than he otherwise would. But all days must end. How will he deal with the situation waiting back home?

It's an excellent premise for a film, and there is real emotional heft in the bedroom scenes where the wife’s body lies. But pacing and believability falter seriously in the scenes in between, and the supporting cast leaves much to be desired.

Another problem comes when the husband blandly suffers most of the minor irritations of daily life without much response. There is no indication in several scenes of what he might be thinking about his wife or what we’re supposed to be thinking about him. The film needs to show us both but seems preoccupied instead with the rather unremarkable pet peeves people develop in response to day-to-day life.

See it or not?

Skip it if you’re not interested in seeing what committed filmmakers can do with hardly any money. See it if the prospect of making a film for $1,000 intrigues you and if you want to hang in there as the film progresses, forgiving the flaws that appear.

About the Author

Mario Trono

Calgary Eyeopener movie reviewer

Mario Trono, a confessed visual culture addict, is a film and art reviewer obsessed with finding interesting things to look at and tell people about. He daylights as a film professor at Mount Royal University. You can follow him on Twitter at @MarioTrono and hear his DVD reviews Friday at 6:50 a.m. MT on the Calgary Eyeopener.


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