The Milk writer makes his directorial debut with the drama, which stars Connelly as Virginia, a mentally troubled woman who has an affair with a married sheriff, played by Ed Harris.
The film, originally titled What’s Wrong With Virginia, premiered to largely negative reviews at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, prompting Black to head back into the editing room.
Now he admits he was forced to cough up his own money to complete the passion project to his liking.
He tells New York Magazine, “We never felt we had enough time in the editing room… We didn’t even have time to watch it with an audience. We showed it to friends and family – which I’m now thinking is a terrible idea, because they’re always going to say they love it and that’s not very helpful. And although the audiences in Toronto were very supportive, just watching the film through their eyes, I felt like I was watching a film that didn’t know if it was a drama or a comedy, until maybe about an hour in. For me, that was too late in the film.
“And for the critics, that was definitely too late in the film. And I got beaten up by critics, in some ways deservedly so. So I went to my producer… and I said, ‘We have to cut this thing.’ It was tough, because we had distribution offers, and people said, ‘If you don’t take them now, these will go away.’ So it was a bit of a fight. I had to pony up some of the money for the re-edit.”
But Black reveals he did have some help from celebrated filmmaker Gus Van Sant: “He told me a story about re-cutting a film (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues) that didn’t go well, and gave me some advice about what to watch out for.”