Review by Fran Dorf —
This 2004 film honestly examines a marriage breaking apart after child-loss. Adapted from the first (and best, in my opinion) part of John Irving’s best-selling novel, A Widow for One Year, the film is set in the affluent beach community of East Hampton, N.Y., and takes place during one critical summer in the lives of famous children’s book author and artist Ted Cole (Jeff Bridges) and his beautiful wife Marion (Kim Basinger).
The Cole’s once-sweet marriage has curdled in the aftermath of the tragedy of losing their twin teenage sons in a car accident, and their attempt to fill the void with a new child, now six-year-old Ruth, has been disastrous. Marion remains despondent and unable to mother the new child, and Ted has become a philandering alcoholic. Eddie O’Hare, a young man Ted hires to work as his summer assistant, becomes the couple’s pawn in the destructive game that has developed between them.
I found this film deeply moving and devastating as a kind of cautionary tale, for its portrayal of the destructiveness that can occur in two people with no resources to cope with a tragedy of unbearable proportions. It’s hard to sympathize with these two, but I recognize in them the narcissism and self-absorption of grief, and when Marion takes all the photographs and negatives of their dead sons, I wept like a baby.
Fran Dorf’s acclaimed, internationally published novels include A Reasonable Madness (1990/91), Flight (1992/93), and Saving Elijah (2000), which was inspired by the tragic death of Fran’s son, Michael, in 1994. An experienced public speaker and active philanthropist, Fran blogs as THE BRUISED MUSE on life, grief, and everything in between (books, film, art, writing, psychology, culture, human rights, politics, media, poetry, spirituality, etc) at www.frandorf.com.grief, hope