Is the new film by John Cameron Mitchell ( who I’m a big fan of) starring Nicole Kidman (Becca) and Aaron Eckhart (Howie) as a bereaved middle class couple, who lost their only child in a car accident eight months ago.
They both deal with it in different ways, Howie wants to talk about it, he goes to group therapy where he meets a warm friendly woman ( Sandra Oh) and there’s the potential of an affair. Becca is cold and brittle and rude to her family (very like Margot at the wedding), keeping everything inside. She’s rejecting of emotional support from Aaron and her working class religious mum (a fantastic Diane Weist) and instead seeks out and starts a dialogue with the boy who ran over her son ( Miles Teller).
The film is similar to Blue Valentine in tone, sad but with some moments of humour, and it feels like the couple are in the process of heading down a similar path. Unlike the natural impro of that film here the performances feel slightly more theatrical at points, especially arguments between the couple.
I was dissapointed also because I thought that there would be some slight metaphysical aspect to the story to do with parallel universes, like in Donnie Darko or in Charlie Kaufman’s scripts but that idea is not explored, they only discuss it once briefly in the most basic way and it doesn’t feature in the actual story at all.
Also the film and every character in it is only about the death of the kid. I realise this is what it’s about and for the leads it might be the case. But all the other characters also reflect this. There’s no story line or moment that strays away from this theme. The mum also has a son who died, the sister is pregnant and thinking about babies. What I think I mean is none of the relationships reflect different aspects of our leads and they must have other facets of themselves even if those only flash through for a moment.
In the end I think it’s a quiet, competent and thoughtful portrait of grief, with characters who are engaging and believable but not quite rounded.