If there's one death-of-a-child film you should see this year then look no further. This one really is misery porn. There's not much you can do to make this kind of tale positive or life-affirming but writer David Lindsay-Abaire (adapting from his play of the same name) takes a pretty good stab at it. And his script, quite boldly, doesn't shy away from humour. Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) are the deceased couple, coping differently with the loss of their little boy. She befriends the teenage driver of the car that killed him. Howie, on the other hand, gets a bit too close to the also deceased Gaby (Sandra Oh).
Kidman gives good misery but there's something about her that's a bit fake for someone in suburbia. Perhaps it’s the
Hollywood baggage. Perhaps it’s the bleaching and botox. It’s just hard at times to buy her otherworldliness as normal. The same could be said of Aaron Eckhart. At one point he takes off his shirt to reveal a very un-normal, Hollywood-ised physique. Well, they’ve each appeared in at least one Batman film. That’s not going to encourage the pursuit of normality.
Dianne Wiest lends solid support as Becca’s mother. Newcomer, Miles Teller holds his own as the startled young adult forced to grow up so suddenly. His naturalistic performance is quite heart-breaking. The direction is simple but effective from John Cameron-Mitchell (known for slightly more “out there” fare such as Hedwig and the Angry Inch) - an inspired choice from producer Kidman, for this her pet project.
While the film has no simple solutions to the horrors, it does offer a certain poetic simplicity: that things will never be the same but life must go on.