Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie Corbett (Aaron Eckhart) lost their pre-school aged son less than a year ago, from a needless, senseless accident. Their son was chasing a dog who ran onto the road in front of the house and was hit by a passing car. There was no fault.
I personally would not have persisted with the support group, had I been in their appalling situation. The group was not supportive; indeed it was insensitively religious and very repetitive in their own, individual pain. But I suppose the Corbetts had to do something with their horrible lives.
Becca’s working family tried very hard to be supportive, but they were even less helpful than the support group. To have lost a son in both generations of the family seems more than just bad luck - it seemed like a family in permanent crisis. Only once did Becca’s mother (Dianne Wiest) make any headway with her daughter; she explained the management of grief and of normal life over a very long, 11 year period. Perhaps the clearing of Danny’s cupboards represented the first step en route to “managing” the crisis.
Becca and Howie
Perhaps in retaliation, Howie considered an affair with Gaby (Sandra Oh), the longest standing mourner in the support group. Gaby had returned to something approaching normal life, many years after her own child had died. Gaby’s husband, presumably, had not.
TheVine was put slightly offside by the film's visual blandness, as if to visually represent the suffocating expectations of upper middle class life. The expression “terminally tasteful” was telling, since there is absolutely nothing tasteful about grief.
But I disagree with TheVine. The fact that a family lived elegantly in a lovely home on the lake did not make the viewer insensitive to their plight. Becca and Howie had not had sex for almost a year, and for that alone, their pain was palpable. The raging anger by Howie and the resentful silences by Becca were EXACTLY what I would have expected. Both of them had meltdowns, but mostly they preserved a brittle stability, at least on the surface.
Two other film blogs made interesting comments. Cinema Autopsy valued the soft, sometimes washed out light that gave the film a melancholic glow that was oddly comforting, despite the great sadness that it elicited. E-Film Blog didn’t expect the film to provide any answers; to even try would have been pretentious. But the questions were still vital.
Seven months after my beloved mother's death and one month after my beloved father's death, I am finding the mourning period to be filled with despair. There is self-blame of course but there is also resentment about the other family members' behaviour and rage about the doctor and hospital's behaviour. A world that seemed perfectly predictable and stable has now become a world of a lost past and a fearful future.