Running Time: 92 minutes
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest, Tammy Blanchard, Sandra Oh
Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Screenplay: David Lindsay-Abaire
Cinematography: Frank G. DeMarco
Everything about this film seems wrong at the outset. The director is John Cameron Mitchell, the man behind the flamboyantly fabulous Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The lead is Nicole Kidman, an actress whose iciness can only be beaten by Tilda Swinton. It’s hard to even consider her as the grieving mother in this powerful film, yet somehow the very brittle coolness that turns me off her usually works.
This is a woman shutting emotion out of her life. Unlike most stories where the man is eager to move on, and the woman can’t let go, here the roles are reversed. Aaron Eckhart’s husband is grieving and needy, but can’t get this through to a wife who has cut herself off from everything as a means of coping with her loss. To try and make sense of it, she reaches out to the boy responsible for her son’s death.
I didn’t love this film. It was so raw and real it felt voyeuristic to be watching it. Yet its very rawness is what makes it work. It’s no fun being thrust into the lives of these overwhelmingly sad individuals, especially when they seem incapable of change. I won’t give away the ending, but let me just say, there is a spark of hope. And if you can stop staring at the bizarre plastic surgery Nic appears to have had around her mouth, you will certainly find something to enjoy about this portrayal of the separation that comes with grief.